Corps to issue DAPL easement by Wednesday afternoon
The deputy secretary of the Army will grant the final permit needed for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Army declared in a court filing Tuesday, clearing the final bureaucratic hurdle standing in the way of the massive infrastructure project.
The pipeline is now about 85 percent finished, save for a section that would pass under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River - a reservoir that serves as the main source of drinking water for the nearby Standing Rock Reservation.
Supporters of the project, the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN), said the Trump administration and the Corps "followed the letter of the law" in freeing up the four-state project for transporting the bulk of Bakken Shale crude oil production in North Dakota to domestic and foreign markets through a hub in central IL.
Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline won a short victory in December when the US Army Corps of Engineers announced it would not grant an easement.
In letters to House and Senate members disclosed Tuesday in a court filing, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul D. Cramer said that he issued the easement within 24 hours, citing President Trump's memorandum January 24 to expedite the Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects.
Standing Rock protesters have been camping out in wintry conditions for weeks.
An attorney for the Department of Justice says the Army Corp could reach a decision as early as this week.
Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice who represents the Standing Rock Sioux, says via email the tribe will challenge the U.S. government in court.
Corps officials and the Indian Affairs Office are both, incredibly, justifying the removal of protesters on environmental protection grounds. ETP says the pipeline is safe.
"Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement", said Robert Speer, acting Secretary of the Army.
That said, it's not clear if construction can begin while the decision is being challenged - or whether the court might issue an injunction. However, the company building the 1,200-mile pipeline that will transfer oil from the Dakotas to a shipping point in Illinois, Energy Transfer Partners, said the decision was politically motivated.
The Army has notified Congress that it will allow the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota, completing the four-state project to move North Dakota oil to IL.
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