BISMARCK, North Dakota — The Army Corps of Engineers was ordered to allow construction of the Dakota Access pipeline to proceed under a disputed Missouri River crossing, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven said. It’s the latest twist in a months-long legal battle over the US$3.8 billion project.
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose opposition to the project attracted thousands of supporters from around the country to North Dakota, immediately vowed to again go to court to stop it.
Hoeven announced late Tuesday that the acting Secretary of the Army, Robert Speer, had directed the Army Corps of Engineers to “proceed” with an easement necessary to complete the pipeline. Hoeven said he also spoke with Vice President Mike Pence, just a week after President Donald Trump signed an executive order signaling his support for the project.
A spokesman for the U.S. Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday night. Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said that Speer’s move means the easement “isn’t quite issued yet, but they plan to approve it” within days.
The crossing under Lake Oahe, a wide section of the Missouri River in southern North Dakota, is the final big chunk of work on the four-state, US$3.8 billion pipeline to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois.
The pipeline has been the target of months of protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation lies near the pipeline’s route and who have argued that it’s a threat to water.
The tribe has vowed to challenge any granting of the easement in court, and Chairman Dave Archambault renewed that vow Tuesday night.
“If it does become a done deal in the next few days, we’ll take it to the judicial system,” Archambault said. He added: “This is a good indicator of what this country is going to be up against in the next four years. So America has to brace itself.”