The US Department of the Army announced it has completed a presidential-directed review of the remaining easement
request for the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline, and has
notified Congress that it intends to grant an easement for a
right-of-way across government land at Lake Oahe in North
The decision was based on a sufficient amount of information being available already that supported approval of
the easement, and the Army chose to terminate a notice of
intent to prepare an environmental impact statement that
the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) issued previously, Acting Army Sec. Robert Speer said.
“Today’s announcement will allow for the final step,
which is granting of the easement,” Speer said. “Once that it
done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential
Memorandum of Jan. 24.” He referred to an executive order
that US President Donald J. Trump issued that day for an
expedited review and approval of the project.
His subordinate, Army Asst. Sec. for Civil Works Jo-Ellen
Darcy, announced 2 months earlier that the Army would not
approve the easement, and that consideration of an alternative route would best be accomplished by an EIS with full
public input and analysis (OGJ Online, Dec. 5, 2016).
Her office previously had said it would delay the easement decision for discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux
Tribe, whose reservation lies ½ mile south of the proposed
crossing (OGJ Online, Nov. 15, 2016).
The Army said on Feb. 7 that its action would facilitate
completion of the last 1½ miles of the 1,172-mile, 30-in.
pipeline, connecting the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Patoka, Ill.
‘Listen, work together’
Hours earlier, US Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) said she
had met with Speer, who notified her that ACE would ap-
prove the Lake Oahe easement. “Throughout continued de-
lays and stalling tactics during the last administration, I’ve
been pushing for the certainty our communities need, and
as [ACE] delivers the finality they deserve today, it’s crucial
that all parties double down in their resolve to listening and
working together,” she said.
Protesters have the right to lawfully and peacefully dem-
onstrate, and law enforcement, residents, and tribal mem-
bers deserve to have their safety guaranteed, Heitkamp said.
“Going forward, I’ll continue to monitor the federal gov-
ernment’s work to renew guidance addressing required trib-
al consultation for future infrastructure projects on or near
tribal land, and I’ll keep working with the federal delegation
and the governor in a bipartisan effort to push for more fed-
eral support for law enforcement,” Heitkamp said.
Other congressional Democrats were critical. “This blatant disregard for federal law and our country’s treaty and
trust responsibilities to Native American tribes is unacceptable,” five Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members, including Ranking Member Maria E. Cantwell
(Wash.), and four House Natural Resources Committee
members, including Ranking Member Raul M. Grijalva
(Ariz.), told President Trump in a Feb. 7 letter.
‘An important step’
Republicans were pleased. “President Trump has promised
to put Americans back to work and this is an important step
in fulfilling that promise,” Environment and Public Works
Committee Chairman John A. Barrasso (Wyo.) said. “This
project will also provide an efficient means of transporting
American oil and will improve our nation’s energy security. I
applaud the Trump administration for making it a priority.”
American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers Pres.
Chet Thompson said that the project was long overdue, and
added he was pleased to hear that ACE would be granting
the final easement. “This pipeline was needlessly delayed,
despite meeting the required environmental approvals. By
moving forward with this critical infrastructure project,
President Trump is fulfilling the commitment he made to
the America people to build out the necessary infrastructure
Army says it intends to grant Dakota
Access pipeline final easement