Army Blocks Drilling of Dakota Access Oil Pipeline
By JACK HEALY and NICHOLAS FANDOS
December 4, 2016
New York Times
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CANNON BALL, N.D. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a major victory on Sunday in its battle to block an oil pipeline being built near its reservation when the Department of the Army announced that it would not allow the pipeline to be drilled under a dammed section of the Missouri River.
The Army said it would look for alternative routes for the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline. Construction of the route a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation has become a global flash point for environmental and indigenous activism, drawing thousands of people out here to a sprawling prairie camp of tents, tepees and yurts.
The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Armys assistant secretary for civil works, said in a statement. The move could presage a lengthy environmental review that has the potential to block the pipelines construction for months or years.
But it was unclear how durable the governments decision would be. Sundays announcement came in the dwindling days of the Obama administration, which revealed in November that the Army Corps of Engineers was considering an alternative route. The Corps of Engineers is part of the Department of the Army.
President-elect Donald J. Trump, however, has taken a different view of the project and said as recently as last week that he supported finishing the 1,170-mile pipeline, which crosses four states and is almost complete.
Though the Armys decision calls for an environmental study of alternative routes, the Trump administration could ultimately decide to allow the original, contested route. Representatives for Mr. Trumps transition team did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Trump owns stock in the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, but he has said that his support has nothing to do with his investment.
There was no immediate response from Energy Transfer Partners, but its chief executive, Kelcy Warren, has said that the company was unwilling to reroute the pipeline, which is intended to transport as much as 550,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil fields of western North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois.
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