“I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline in a way,” President Obama said of the Dakota Access Pipeline situation during a recent interview. “So, we’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”
Of course, if President Obama allows this situation to play out for “several more weeks” he’s not going to be the President any more. The election itself is less than a week away, and after that Obama begins his 10-week “lame duck” period until inauguration day on January 20.
So, in other words, he’s punting on the issue:
But let’s set aside for a moment the fact that Obama is basically committed to roadblocking this pipeline until a new president takes over and address his comments about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers re-routing the pipeline.
It’s worth keeping in mind that almost the entirety of this pipeline traverses private land. “In fact, DAPL needs almost no federal permitting of any kind because 99% of its route traverses private land,” Obama-appointed federal judge James Boasberg wrote in his September opinion rejecting arguments against the pipeline from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
It’s actually more than 99 percent. It’s like 99.8 percent. Just 0.2 percent of this pipeline is on federal land.
But Obama, apparently, thinks that 0.2 percent gives the federal government the authority to re-route the 99.8 percent of the pipeline on private property.
It’s also worth remembering that the Army Corps had already recommended that the easement the Obama administration is now holding up – for blatantly political reasons – be issued for the pipeline. It’s worth remembering that other routes were considered, and rejected, because the chosen route is shorter and has fewer water crossings.
This table is from the Corps’ Mitigated Findings of No Significant Impact (read the full report here), and it compares the chosen route with a previously consider route which would have run north of Bismarck.
As you can see the chosen route has (among other positives) 33 fewer water crossings, co-location with existing pipeline for an additional 34.6 miles, and co-location with existing power lines for an additional 3.2 miles. It also reduced the amount of “greenfield” land (areas undisturbed by previous development) by over 48 miles, and reduced the total length of the pipeline by 10 miles:
What this means is that another route was chosen, and rejected, for a number of excellent reasons. Obama talking about considering other routes is just a smoke screen to obscure the political nature of his obstruction.