The U.S. Department of Justice is about to announce next steps on de-escalating the standoff regarding construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“Today, the Department of Justice announced in federal court that it will be announcing the next steps on a ‘path forward’ for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing at Lake Oahe,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II in a statement on November 10.
Energy Transfer Partners is refusing to stand down on its construction plans despite two requests from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it do so.
The company, builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), said on Tuesday November 8 that it planned to begin drilling in two weeks—even though at the moment it does not have the easements necessary for it to tunnel under the river legally.
Building without approved easements is a violation of federal law, the Army Corps emphasized.
“Any work must adhere to federal regulations,” the Army Corps said. “Failure to comply can bring legal action. Construction without proper permits or easements in place can result in fines and legal action.”
The tribe said nothing will do but a complete environmental impact statement at the least, and a rerouting of the pipeline.
“The only possible path forward for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is a decision that denies the easement or subjects it to a full environmental impact statement and tribal consultation,” Archambault said. “The only urgency here arises from DAPL’s reckless decision to build to either side of the Missouri River without a permit. It even continued construction when the U.S. Government asked it to voluntarily stop.”
Demonstrations to protect burial sites and the tribe’s water continue around the construction site, and the Standing Rock Sioux tribal leadership is in talks with the Army Corps to de-escalate the situation and move the camp of water protectors, both sides said.
“The Corps of Engineers is concerned for the safety of all the people involved with the continued demonstrations occurring in and around Corps-managed federal public lands in the State of North Dakota,” said Army Corps Colonel John W. Henderson, commander and district engineer of the Omaha District in on November 9. “In an effort to defuse these tensions, which have led to confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement personnel, we asked Dakota Access Pipeline on November 4 to honor the Administration’s request for a voluntary shutdown by stopping work for a 30-day period to allow for de-escalation. Dakota Access did not agree to this request.”
The Army Corps and tribal leaders from throughout the Missouri River basin are working to “defuse tensions between demonstrators and law enforcement,” Henderson said in a statement, adding that key state leaders are also on board to de-escalate the tense situation in order to maintain public safety.
“We are concerned over recent statements from DAPL regarding our request to voluntarily stop work, which are intended to defuse tensions surrounding their operations near Corps-managed federal land until we have a clear path forward,” Henderson said. “We again ask DAPL to voluntarily cease operations in this area as their absence will help reduce these tensions.”
The company once again indicated it was not interested in complying with any work stoppage requests, according to the Bismarck Tribune though a spokesperson told the Associated Press that drilling would not commence without the necessary permissions.
“We have always said [safety’ is our top priority: The safety of our workers and our assets, the safety of those who live and work in the area and the safety of the environment,” Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Vicki Granado told AP.
Archambault once again expressed gratitude for the support that has poured in from around the world.
“We thank all of the people around the world that have joined us in urging President Obama to do the right thing,” Archambault said in his statement. “We ask everyone to join us in peaceful and prayerful opposition as we await this important decision.”