The Army Corps of Engineers officially granted the coveted easement for completion of the Dakota Access pipeline on Wednesday.
Only days after entering office, President Donald Trump issued an executive memorandum that provided clear directives for a swift revival of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline that would run from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfields to Illinois. Wednesday’s easement from the Corps allows work to continue, including drilling underneath the Missouri River, bypassing an environmental review of the project.
According to CNN, the Corps said Tuesday:
The decision was made based on a sufficient amount of information already available which supported approval to grant the easement request.
Pushback against DAPL erupts again
Members of the Standing Rock Tribe, along with many other protesters that include the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, have pledged they won’t quit fighting against the pipeline’s completion. Greenpeace, according to CNN, said that the President was “looking out for the rich” and that Trump has “put on full display a blatant disregard for Indigenous sovereignty, public health, and public outcry…This decision to smash through the (environmental impact statement) process is nothing but a reward to Trump’s corporate, oil industry cronies.”
The Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement that “the granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight–it is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far,” reports CNBC.
Military veterans, too, have announced new efforts to fight back against the pipeline’s completion. A GoFundMe account has raised $210,221 of its $500,000 goal to fight “with our brothers and sisters in the spirit of peace and unity.” Funds will be allocated to meet ongoing needs of the protest camp, to provide transportation and ride shares to volunteers, and to support Veterans Stand mobile readiness, according to the fund’s account. An update on February 9 states that “Veterans Stand has an advance team on the ground at the Standing Rock Reservation to meet with tribal and camp leadership to coordinate upcoming deployments, deliver supplies, and determine the areas of need in which we can be of greatest assistance.”
Amy Sisk, a reporter for Inside Energy, told NPR that there are still several hundred people at the protest camp near Standing Rock that are determined not to leave, despite requests from the tribe to abandon the camp. Cleanup efforts there have begun, too, in order to prepare for spring flooding.
Protests continue in other areas of the country as well. The Seattle City Council voted on Wednesday not to renew its contract with Wells Fargo in opposition to the bank’s position as lender to the Dakota Access project, pulling $3 billion in annual cash flow from the bank. The city of Davis, California, followed soon afterward with similar actions, according to NPR. Santa Fe, New Mexico Mayor Javier Gonzales has also hinted that his city may also follow suit. Gonzales participated in a DAPL protest last month, and said in response to comments urging the city to abandon Wells Fargo replied in a tweet, “I share concerns, will push for broader bidding process this yr, incl. local options. We can/should find better ways to manage funds.”
(2/2) I share concerns, will push for broader bidding process this yr, incl. local options. We can/should find better ways to manage funds.
— Javier Gonzales (@javiermgonzales) January 12, 2017
What about support of the Dakota Access?
There are constant reports describing the protests against the pipeline, but there is still plenty of support for DAPL’s completion. Many, including President Trump, cite the positive aspects of the pipeline’s completion as reason enough to push forward, such as job creation and safe transport. In addition, it may set a precedence for subsequent pipeline infrastructure approvals. The Washington Times reported that House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, Utah Republican, said the approval means that:
We can officially say goodbye to infrastructure approvals being subject to political impulse.
In fact, many cite they are tired of dealing with the headaches caused by the pipeline debate. Those who live and work near the pipeline construction have been affected by blocked roads, noise, garbage, and even violence towards their property and families. Protesters have been arrested for setting fires, throwing Molotov cocktails and trespassing. Many of the protesters are not Native American tribe members who call themselves “Water Protectors.” Even Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II has asked people not to return to the protest camp, but to instead pursue their fight in court. Darren Brown, a veteran news photographer and reporter with Cheyenne and Arapaho Television, said, “I think [Archambault] realizes that this protest has done all it can do without someone getting killed.” Many are worried the continuation of the conflict will result in bitter violence.
Others who support the pipeline believe that it is the best way to transport oil. Since it’s unlikely that oil companies will just quit drilling, the oil that is produced will have to be transported somehow.
If we have to move the oil, pipelines are the safest way, especially new ones with the latest monitoring technology. If we want to protest pipelines, we should protest the old ones, the leaky ones, that propose a much greater risk to drinking water than one that’s built with new equipment.
In 2015, Canada’s Fraser Institute found that pipelines are 4.5 times safer than rail transport. A representative even said, saying ‘No’ to a pipeline is saying ‘Yes’ to rail,” which will “increase the risk to the environment and human health and not decrease it.”
Supporters cite the millions of miles of pipelines already in the ground. “How is the risk of this pipeline any different?”