President Barack Obama is expected to sign off on allowing the heavily protested Dakota Access Pipeline to continue construction. The decision is considered a direct result of President-elect Donald Trump’s election.
The Obama administration will approve of an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline on Nov. 14, two sources familiar with the deliberations told Politico.
The decision would be a reversal of his previous stance on the controversial pipeline, which is currently being protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmentalists. The Native American tribe has asserted that the pipeline’s route will destroy culturally sacred lands and contaminate the Missouri River, their reservation’s source of drinking water, according to Mashable.
“My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” Obama said Nov. 2, after the Army Corps had placed a halt on the pipeline’s construction. “And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute the pipeline.”
That stance appears to have changed after Trump’s election. In the outline for his first 100 days in office, the business mogul has vowed to lift any blocks on any energy infrastructure projects, meaning that both the Dakota Access and Keystone Pipeline will proceed in his administration, NPR reports.
Analyst Brandon Barnes of Bloomberg Intelligence observed that Trump’s victory would officially guarantee that the pipeline would resume construction through the Missouri River and predicted that the Obama administration would not wait before a Trump administration to take action.
“I think the easement gets granted, and I think it happens before the inauguration,” Barnes told The Seattle Times. “I think it happens in November.”
The analyst added that any attempt by the Obama administration to delay construction would just be overturned by the Trump administration.
“That seems like a Pyrrhic victory,” Barnes said. “Does he look petty doing that? Is he defending the tribes?”
On Nov. 11, roughly 40 protesters were arrested in North Dakota for vandalizing equipment at the pipeline’s construction site, Reuters reports.
An Army Corps spokeswoman stated that an announcement about the pipeline’s future “will come in the next few days.”