Dakota Pipeline Protesters Win Standoff as Alternate Route is Sought

12_04_dakota_01
Native American "water protectors" celebrate that the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, December 4. Lucas Jackson/Reuters

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has turned down a permit for a controversial pipeline project running through North Dakota, in a victory for Native Americans and climate activists who have protested against the project for several months, according to a statement released on Sunday.

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access Pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, had been complete except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

"The Army will not grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location based on the current record," a statement from the U.S. Army said.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with climate activists, have been protesting the $3.8 billion project, saying it could contaminate the water supply and damage sacred tribal lands. The protest has garnered support from thousands who have flocked to North Dakota to protest against the completion of the line.

"Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline," said Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II, in a statement. "Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes."

U.S. Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell released a statement on Sunday saying the Army's "thoughtful approach...ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts."

Protest organizers had for months argued that crossing the Missouri River adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation presented a danger to their water source. Protests grew over the months, with hundreds of veterans flocking to the camp in recent days to stand against what they say are aggressive tactics from law enforcement.

A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners could not immediately be reached for comment.