The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) [official website] will grant the final permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline [USACE backgrounder] after an order from President Donald Trump to expedite the process, according to a court document [text, PDF] filed Tuesday. The USACE stated that they would grant the final easement necessary to finish construction of the pipeline despite opposition from Native American tribes and climate activists. One of Trump’s very first acts in office was to sign a presidential memoranda ordering the removal of obstacles [JURIST report] to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. As proposed, the pipeline is being built on contested land that Native American tribes consider sacred. Furthermore, the pipeline crosses under Lake Oahe, which concerns environmentalists. North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is expected to challenge [Reuters report] the granting of the easement. The tribe’s attorneys are arguing that the easement cannot legally be granted at this time.
The Dakota Access Pipeline [informational website] is a partially constructed oil pipeline that would transport more than 470,000 barrels of oil per day over its 1,172 mile length through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. In December the USACE announced [JURIST report] that an alternate route will be investigated for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The controversy surrounding the project is connected with its proposed proximity to multiple large bodies of water that could become irreparably contaminated should the pipeline fail. Protesters have made camp at the site since early summer and are led in part by the Indigenous Environmental Network [advocacy website] and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe [official website]. Conflict between protesters and police has been condemned by both the UN and the American Civil Liberties Union. In November the ACLU reported that police at the Standing Rock site in North Dakota used life-threatening weapons to control protesters [JURIST report]. Earlier that month a UN rights group released a statement expressing concerns that the US government is ignoring treaty rights, as well as human rights [JURIST report] of Native Americans and others that are protesting the DAPL.