Since the spring, thousands of protesters have flocked to the Standing Rock site in North Dakota to join Native Americans in opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.Image Credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images
On December 4th, they won their cause.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced that the pipeline will be re-routed so as not to pass beneath Lake Oahe, which sits on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation.Image Credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images
Alternative routes will be considered for the 1,172-mile pipeline, which is designed to carry 20 million gallons of oil across the Midwest every day.
Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, explained:
“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.”
Tribal leaders are elated and relieved.Image Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Over the past few months they have repeatedly expressed safety concerns about the proposed crossing location, as Lake Oahe sits just a half mile from their reservation.
They feared any rupture or spill could irreparably damage their water supply and land.Image Credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images
Not only that, but the pipeline would disturb historic and sacred sites.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement:
“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 for new pipeline plans, Darcy said they will likely utilize an Environmental Impact Statement with “full public input and analysis” in order to determine the best alternatives.
In other words, the pipeline will still be built—it just won’t cross through Standing Rock.Image Credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images
There are 7.4 billion barrels of “undiscovered, technically recoverable oil” at the pipeline’s starting point in North Dakota, according to a U.S. Geological Survey.
And the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, has said that the pipeline will create up to 12,000 construction jobs.
With so much at stake, it’s clear we’re nowhere near the end of this story.