Since Sept. 9, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been reviewing whether to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to be constructed under Lake Oahe.
More than two months later, the Corps has announced the result of its review.
And that result is ... there needs to be more discussion and analysis before the Corps makes a decision.
That's "in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property."
The pipeline – which is being constructed by Energy Transfer Partners – would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois on a nearly 1,200-mile route. The stretch of the pipeline that's supposed to go under Lake Oahe (which is owned by the federal government, and located near Cannon Ball, North Dakota) is essentially the last piece. Once it's done, it will connect the two sides and make a complete route.
But hundreds of people have joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in protesting the pipeline's route in recent months. The Tribe has argued the pipeline threatens its water supply if there's a leak, and that it would impede on sacred land.
So that's led to the protests, the arrests, and the review from the Army Corps of Engineers – which has to grant Energy Transfer Partners what's called an "easement" before the company can build beneath the lake.
Energy Transfer Partners last week started moving drilling equipment into place around Lake Oahe, expecting to get the easements in the coming weeks. Whether that will actually be the case isn't clear. (Though its CEO expects it to get the all clear under President Donald Trump.)
The Army Corps of Engineers Monday said it wants the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to be part of the upcoming discussion, including questions of:
- How to reduce the risk of a spill or leak.
- How to make sure a leak or spill is detected quickly, if it does happen.
- How else to protect Lake Oahe.
- And any other input the Tribe sees as relevant.
"While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur... " the Corps said in part.
The Corps also added it supports people expressing their right to protest ... but also asks people follow the law when doing so.
Meanwhile, the Morton County Sheriff's Department – which has been at the center of law enforcement efforts to control demonstrations – posted this to Facebook Monday: