After months of protesting, the highly criticised Dakota Access Pipeline has been denied access to drill through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation by the US Army Corps of Engineers. This signals a major win for members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters.
The decision was announced by Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, who stated that the decision was made on the need to find alternate and safer routes, which will be done through an environmental impact statement.
“The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing,” Darcy said in a statement.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II also announced the Army’s decision in his own statement. He also thanked President Obama for his courage in doing the right thing.
“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” Archambault said.
Archambault also thanked the thousands of supporters the protest gained over the last several months, from other tribal nations to US Army Veterans who joined the protest over the weekend, acting as a human shield for the protesters against the local authority enforcers.
“We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause…We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water.”
The movement started with the youth of Standing Rock Reservation Tribe. Since April, they have camped along the Missouri River in protest against the pipeline’s proposed route, which was to cross through sacred Native American land and was suspected would pollute local water supplies.
Environmental activist Naomi Klein was at the protest camp when the decision was announced and spoke to Tokata Iron Eyes, a 13-year-old water protector. She was one of the first people to begin the movement and says she now feels like she has her future back.
Over the last several months, opposition to the pipeline has grown, as supporters from around the country and the globe joined the protest at the camp site, online and through donations.
On several instances, the protest turned violent when protesters clashed with local authority enforcers and were subjected to rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.
The decision comes as a disappointment to North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer who supported the pipeline.
Cramer stated, “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country…Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms, and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way.”
There is fear that the new Trump administration will attempt to overturn this action, and politicians and protesters alike are imploring Trump to respect the decision.
Archambault stated, “We hope that Kelcey Warren, Governor Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point.”