Fed­eral gov­ern­ment blocks pipeline route

Army Corps: Dakota Ac­cess will have to “ex­plore al­ter­nate routes”

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By James MacPherson

can­non ball, n.d.» The Army Corps of En­gi­neers said Sun­day that it won’t grant an ease­ment for the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipeline in south­ern North Dakota, hand­ing a vic­tory to the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe and its sup­port­ers, who ar­gued the project would threaten the tribe’s wa­ter source and cul­tural sites.

North Dakota’s lead­ers crit­i­cized the de­ci­sion, with Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple calling it a “se­ri­ous mis­take” that “pro­longs the dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion” of hav­ing sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers who are camped out on fed­eral land dur­ing cold, win­try weather. U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer said it’s a “very chilling sig­nal” for the fu­ture of in­fra­struc­ture in the United States.

The four-state, $3.8 bil­lion project is largely com­plete ex­cept for the now-blocked seg­ment un­derneath Lake Oahe, a Mis­souri River reser­voir. As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her de­ci­sion was based on the need to “ex­plore al­ter­nate routes” for the pipeline’s cross­ing. Her full de­ci­sion doesn’t rule out that it could cross un­der the reser­voir or north of Bis­marck.

“Although we have had con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sion and ex­changes of new in­forma-

tion with the Stand­ing Rock Sioux and Dakota Ac­cess, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said. “The best way to com­plete that work re­spon­si­bly and ex­pe­di­tiously is to ex­plore al­ter­nate routes for the pipeline cross­ing.”

The com­pany con­struct­ing the pipeline, Dal­las-based En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners, had said it was un­will­ing to reroute the project. It had no im­me­di­ate com­ment Sun­day.

The de­ci­sion came a day be­fore the gov­ern­ment’s dead­line for the sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple at the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Coun­cil Fires, en­camp­ment to leave the fed­eral land. But demon­stra­tors say they’re pre­pared to stay, and au­thor­i­ties say they won’t forcibly re­move them.

As the news spread Sun­day, cheers and chants of “mni wiconi” — “wa­ter is life” in Lakota Sioux — broke out among the pro­test­ers. Some in the crowd banged drums. Miles Al­lard, a mem­ber of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux, said he was pleased but re­mained cau­tious, say­ing, “We don’t know what Trump is go­ing to do.”

“The whole world is watch­ing,” Al­lard added. “I’m telling all our peo­ple to stand up and not to leave un­til this is over.”

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch said Sun­day the Depart­ment of Jus­tice will “con­tinue to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion” and stands “ready to pro­vide re­sources to help all those who can play a con­struc­tive role in eas­ing ten­sions.”

“The safety of ev­ery­one in the area — law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, res­i­dents and pro­test­ers alike — con­tin­ues to be our fore­most con­cern,” she added.

Carla Young­bear of the Meskwaki Potawatomi tribe made her third trip from cen­tral Kansas to be at the protest site.

“I have grand­chil­dren, and I’m go­ing to have great-grand­chil­dren,” she said. “They need wa­ter. Wa­ter is why I’m here.”

Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribal Chair­man Dave Ar­cham­bault didn’t re­spond to mes­sages left seek­ing com­ment.

Mor­ton County Sher­iff Kyle Kirch­meier, whose depart­ment has done much of the polic­ing for the protests, said that “lo­cal law en­force­ment does not have an opin­ion” on the ease­ment and that his depart­ment will con­tinue to “en­force the law.”

Ear­lier, an or­ga­nizer with Vet­er­ans Stand for Stand­ing Rock said tribal el­ders had asked mil­i­tary vet­er­ans not to have con­fronta­tions with law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, adding the group is there to help out those who’ve dug in against the project.

About 250 vet­er­ans gath­ered about a mile from the main camp for a meet­ing with or­ga­nizer Wes Clark Jr., the son of the for­mer Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. The group said about 2,000 vet­er­ans were com­ing, but it wasn’t clear how many ar­rived.

Helen H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post

Pro­test­ers cel­e­brate their vic­tory Sun­day in Can­non Ball, N.D., af­ter Sioux Chief Ar­vol Look­ing Horse an­nounced the Army Corps of En­gi­neers will no longer grant an ease­ment for the Dakota Ac­cess pipeline.

Amer­i­can In­di­ans play drums to cel­e­brate af­ter Sioux Chief Ar­vol Look­ing Horse an­nounced that the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers will no longer grant ac­cess to the Dakota Ac­cess Pipeline. Helen H. Richard­son, The Den­ver Post

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