It’s been 63 days since President Barack Obama responded to a decision by federal Judge James Boasberg (an Obama appointee, ironically enough) to reject legal arguments against the Dakota Access Pipeline by withdrawing an easement for crossing the Lake Oahe reservoir the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had already decided to grant.
Yesterday Boasberg held a status hearing on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s lawsuit against the Corps and during that a Corps lawyer said that they “will announce next steps or a path forward” on the pipeline “within a matter of days.”
According to reports coming from Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, the Corps has finished its review of the process leading up to its initial approval of the easement and found no problems.
Kelcy Warren, the CEO of ETP, said during an earnings call yesterday that the election of Donald Trump has likely made the approval of their project a certainty. “We find ourselves in, I believe, a really good position,” Warren said. “Overall, having a government that actually backs up what they say, that actually says we’re going to support infrastructure, we’re going to support job creation, we’re going to support growth in America, and then actually does it — my god, this is going to be refreshing.”
So, things are looking pretty bright for Dakota Access right now. Even if the Obama administration decides to continue blocking the pipeline, that political obstruction now has an expiration date. When Trump takes office all indications are that he’d clear the way for this easement that, again, the Corps had already decided to issue before Obama stepped in.
The question is, how will the protesters react when this project inevitably moves forward? Will they gracefully accept defeat, or respond with more violence and more rioting?
My guess is the latter. The environmental extremists who have glommed on to the Standing Rock’s opposition to the pipeline seem to have few compunctions about using overwrought protesters as cannon fodder.