Army: Dakota Access Pipeline can proceed, environmental study canceled

Yesterday there was word that the Army’s previous decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline could be reversed as soon as Friday, but it didn’t take that long. In a letter, acting Assistant Army Secretary Douglas Lamont wrote, “I have determined that there is no cause for completing any additional environmental analysis.” From the Guardian:

The army corps of engineers provided notice of its intention to grant a permit for the oil pipeline to cross the Missouri river in North Dakota in a letter to congressman Raúl Grijalva, the ranking member on the House committee on natural resources. The decision follows Donald Trump’s executive order in his first week in office to expedite the project.

The letter, revealed in court filings, states that the easement will be issued “no earlier than 24 hours” after the delivery of the letter, which is dated 7 February. The letter also states that the army corps intends to waive the usual 14-day waiting period after congressional notification, meaning drilling could begin as early as Wednesday.

Only about a mile of the pipeline remains to be completed and the drilling equipment to continue the final section is already in place. The developer estimates it will take about 60 days to finish the project.

The Standing Rock Sioux are vowing to challenge the decision in court, but, as I pointed out yesterday, it could be difficult to argue the environmental study is necessary when the decision was so obviously political in the first place. The Army Corps of Engineers recommend the project go forward and were overruled by a political appointee.  From the Associated Press:

An assessment conducted last year determined the crossing would not have a significant impact on the environment. However, then-Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy on Dec. 4 declined to issue permission for the crossing, saying a broader environmental study was warranted.

ETP called Darcy’s decision politically motivated and accused then-President Barack Obama’s administration of delaying the matter until he left office. The Corps launched a study of the crossing on Jan. 18, two days before Obama left office, that could have taken up to two years to complete.

The most interesting aspect of this won’t be what happens in court but what happens in North Dakota where the final fringe of left-wing protesters have vowed not to leave until the pipeline is pulled from the ground. The site has put up a post titled “This is the #NoDAPL last stand” which calls for a day of action tomorrow, February 8th:

The Indigenous Coalition at Standing Rock is calling for February 8th to be an international day of emergency actions to disrupt business as usual and unleash a global intersectional resistance to fossil fuels and fascism.  Connect with other struggles.  Think long-term movement building.  We are in this for the long haul.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has consistently asked for people to go home, and we understand this.  Regardless, water protectors remain on the ground at the Sacred Stone Camp, determined to stop the black snake, and we support them.  If you go, expect police violence, mass arrests, felony charges for just about anything, abuse while in custody, targeted persecution and racial profiling while driving around the area, etc.

We are calling for emergency actions all over the world. PLEASE, THIS IS OUR LAST STAND.

At the bottom of the page is a section of talking points which includes this: “Police violence seems inevitable and mass casualties are very likely. The only way to keep people safe is to do the EIS. If not, any blood spilled is on Trump’s hands and the hands of the Corps.”

Perhaps these people see jail as the only honorable way out of the protest. Given that 74 of the remaining 300 people at the camp were arrested last week, isn’t that enough already? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.