“Our prayers have been answered”
After months of tireless efforts, the protestors at the Standing Rock reservation are claiming victory. On Sunday, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's assistant secretary for civil works, announced the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, CNN reports.
Her statement read in part,
"Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do. The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II told BuzzFeed News, the Corps will take environmental impact into any future decisions adding,
“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”
As GOOD reported in September, the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,172 mile-long oil conduit, was the epicenter of a battle between Big Oil and small Native American tribes. At a cost of $3.7 billion, the pipeline’s economic impact is estimated to be well into the billions and could create 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs. However, while the economic boost would likely pay off for the American consumer, the pipeline’s true cost would come with too high a price as the underground construction is set to travel directly through sacred grounds, including grave sites, of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Moreover, the tribe explains, the pipeline also might endanger their lands and water supply.
Changing the pipeline’s course was the best possible outcome for the thousands of protestors who descended on the site. As National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a statement, "Our prayers have been answered. This isn't over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track."
However, not everyone is happy with the outcome. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican and North Dakota's sole member in the House of Representatives, said in a statement:
"I hoped even a lawless president wouldn't continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road. Today's unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way."
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that the Department of Justice would continue to monitor the protests.