Obama pulls per­mit for Dakota pipe­line

White House ac­cused of yield­ing

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion bowed Sun­day to pro­test­ers by pulling its pre­vi­ously is­sued per­mit for the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line, leav­ing the com­pany build­ing the project in limbo for now and push­ing the headache to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The de­ci­sion an­nounced by the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe calls for En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners to reroute the 1,172-mile, fourstate pipe­line, which is about 90 per­cent com­plete, on the fi­nal 1,100-foot stretch in North Dakota.

“Al­though we have had con­tin­u­ing dis­cus­sion and ex­changes of new in­for­ma­tion with the Stand­ing Rock Sioux and Dakota Ac­cess, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” said the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers’ Jo-Ellen Darcy in a state­ment. “The best way to com­plete that work re­spon­si­bly and ex­pe­di­tiously is to ex­plore al­ter­nate routes for the pipe­line cross­ing.”

Sup­port­ers of the pipe­line de­cried the move, ac­cus­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of kow­tow­ing to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure, while the tribe said in a state­ment that “we

whole­heart­edly sup­port” the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to “do the right thing.”

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers an­nounced that it will not be grant­ing the ease­ment to cross Lake Oahe for the pro­posed Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line,” said the tribe in a state­ment. “In­stead, the corps will be un­der­tak­ing an environmental im­pact state­ment to look at pos­si­ble al­ter­na­tive routes.”

The tribe also thanked its “mil­lions” of sup­port­ers around the world and said that In­dian coun­try would be “for­ever grate­ful to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.”

Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Repub­li­can, ac­cused the ad­min­is­tra­tion of chang­ing the rules in or­der to re­ward “crim­i­nal be­hav­ior,” re­fer­ring to the vi­o­lent ac­tiv­ity of some pro­test­ers.

“I hoped even a law­less pres­i­dent wouldn’t con­tinue to ig­nore the rule of law,” Mr. Cramer said. “How­ever, it was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly clear he was punt­ing this is­sue down the road. Today’s un­for­tu­nate de­ci­sion sends a very chill­ing sig­nal to oth­ers who want to build in­fra­struc­ture in this coun­try.

Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Mid­west Al­liance for In­fra­struc­ture Now, said the “purely po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sion flies in the face of com­mon sense and the rule of law.”

He noted that the pipe­line never crosses the Stand­ing Rock reser­va­tion and is co-lo­cated with a 30-year-old nat­u­ral gas pipe­line, which also re­ceived the re­quired state and fed­eral per­mits.

“Pres­i­dent Obama’s de­ci­sion not to is­sue the fi­nal ease­ment is a re­jec­tion of the en­tire reg­u­la­tory and ju­di­cial sys­tem, as well as the scores of Army Corps of En­gi­neers and civil ser­vants who toiled for more than 800 days to en­sure the process was fol­lowed cor­rectly, in ac­cor­dance with the law,” Mr. Stevens said.

En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners filed a law­suit last month seek­ing to end the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­lay of the project, which re­ceived the ease­ment on fed­eral land at Lake Oahe in July.

Since then, how­ever, thou­sands of pro­test­ers have gath­ered on fed­eral land near Can­non Ball, North Dakota, in an ef­fort to stop the project. More ac­tivists af­fil­i­ated with the group Veter­ans Stand for Stand­ing Rock are ex­pected to hold an­other protest Mon­day.

The corps’ de­ci­sion could still be over­turned af­ter Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump takes of­fice Jan. 20, but the move does al­low Pres­i­dent Obama to leave of­fice with­out alien­at­ing environmental groups op­posed to the project.

“No win is ever per­ma­nent, but this is tes­ta­ment to amaz­ing or­ga­niz­ing,” said 350.org founder Bill McKibben, who has fought the pipe­line as part of the “keep it in the ground” move­ment.

The de­ci­sion also comes with state and lo­cal of­fi­cials rais­ing alarm about safety con­cerns at the pro­test­ers’ camps on fed­eral land as snow and sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures blan­ket the prairie and ac­tivists refuse to heed evac­u­a­tion or­ders.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple is­sued an evac­u­a­tion or­der last week, but state of­fi­cials said they would be un­able to re­move forcibly the ac­tivists as long as they re­main on fed­eral land.

The corps has also urged the ac­tivists to leave, cit­ing the dan­ger­ously cold weather, while as­sur­ing pro­test­ers that they would not be evicted by force.

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

State and lo­cal law en­force­ment had spent more than $10 mil­lion to herd the pro­test­ers off pri­vate prop­erty and pub­lic high­ways and roads, while the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­fused to help with costs de­spite al­low­ing the pro­test­ers to re­main.

“With Pres­i­dent-elect Trump set to take of­fice in 47 days, we are hope­ful that this is not the fi­nal word on the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line,” said Mr. Stevens.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A crowd cel­e­brates the an­nounce­ment that the Army Corps of En­gi­neers won’t grant ease­ment for the Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line in Can­non Ball, North Dakota, Sun­day. Repub­li­cans say Pres­i­dent Obama is re­ward­ing “crim­i­nal be­hav­ior” that hap­pened at the site.

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