After weeks and weeks of unlawful and often violent protests it seems the Obama administration is set to give the #NoDAPL movement what they want.
I’ve been by multiple reliable sources that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be denying Energy Transfer Partners an easement for crossing the Lake Oahe reservoir this afternoon.
I confirmed the news with Congressman Kevin Cramer this afternoon who said he spoke with Jo-Ellen Darcy of the Corps today. Darcy told him that they would be denying the easement and urging a new route.
Cramer says it’s his understanding, from his conversation with Darcy, that the Trump administration could unwind this once he takes office in January. So there is some hope for pipeline supporters there.
I’ll update this post as the news breaks and more information comes in, but suffice it to say that this is a grave injustice. Not only from a legal stand point – this pipeline company invested billions into following an exacting regulatory process only to see the goal posts moved on them at the last moment – but a moral stand point.
The message this sends the enemies of energy infrastructure is that if they cause enough mayhem, if they light enough fires and pick enough fights, they can get their way.
UPDATE: Statement from Cramer’s office:
“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. 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. 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. In my conversation with Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy today, she was unable to give any legal reasons for the decision and could not answer any questions about rerouting the pipeline. I’m encouraged we will restore law and order next month when we get a President who will not thumb his nose at the rule of law. I feel badly for the Corps of Engineers because of the diligent work it did on this project, only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus. But he’s been doing that to the military for eight years, so why not one more time on his way out the door.”
UPDATE: Senator Hoeven says the Obama administration has violated the rule of law:
“The Obama administration’s refusal to issue an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline violates the rule of law and fails to resolve the issue. Instead, it passes the decision off to the next administration, which has already indicated it will approve the easement, and in the meantime perpetuates a difficult situation for North Dakotans.
“Protesters should move from their unlawful site now that the Obama administration has made its decision. By staying on the site, the protesters subject residents in the area to additional weeks of disruption and hardship.
“The reality is that the company has observed all proper procedures and met all environmental standards required by four states and the Corps itself. Further, refusing the easement has ramifications over the long term; if companies and individuals cannot rely on a system that follows the rule of law, nobody will risk making future investments in our country’s vital infrastructure. That will make our nation vulnerable and less secure.
“Our state, local and federal law enforcement officials have acted with professionalism and diligence to maintain peace and order under very difficult circumstances, but their resources are strained and they need help. Following today’s announcement by the Corps, it is incumbent on the administration to provide funding and law enforcement resources to help maintain public safety.”
UPDATE: It seems as though this announcement may have one positive silver lining. Archambault makes it sound as though the protesters will go home:
“In a system that has continuously been stacked against us from every angle, it took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful,” Archambault said of the administration.
In his statement, Archambault added, “With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones.”