Following two executive orders signed by President Donald Trump on his second full working day in office, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has granted an easement to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The project, which has faced months of intense protest, is expected to be completed in three months.
In December 2016, following several months of public opposition, former President Barack Obama ordered the Army Corps to conduct an environmental review of the planned construction. The order effectively halted the project.
Then, in late January, Trump restarted the project by calling on the Army Corps to grant an immediate easement to the pipeline, and, more broadly, calling upon the State Department to grant immediate approval to the larger Keystone XL pipeline.
"On Feb. 8, 2017, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an easement to Dakota Access LLC allowing the installation of a 30-inch-diameter light crude oil pipeline under federal lands managed by the corps at Oahe Reservoir," a statement by the Army Corps noted, reports The Bismarck Tribune.
"The sanctity of these waters is a central tenet of their religion, and the placement of the pipeline itself, apart from any rupture and oil spill, is a desecration of these waters," stated Attorney Nicole Ducheneaux, representing the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in a federal court suit against the pipeline, notes The Associated Press.
“Trump’s reversal of [Obama's] decision continues a historic pattern of broken promises to Indian Tribes and unlawful violation of Treaty rights,” Jan Hasselman, lead attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement, reports The Huffington Post. “They will be held accountable in court.”
According to The Tribune, Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier of Morton County, North Dakota, wrote in a statement: "Our hope is that the new administration in Washington will now provide North Dakota law enforcement the necessary resources to bring closure to the protests."