The Army Corps of Engineers announced earlier this month that it was turning down the permit for the last segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The Secretary of the Army Corps, said that there was a need to explore alternative routes before granting the final permit.
The Standing Rock Sioux Nation claims that this pipeline would both endanger sacred historical sites but also their water supply since it runs across the Missouri River just north of their reservation. The original route of the pipeline would have taken it north Bismark, but fears of an oil leak caused the Energy Transfer Partners, LP to re-route below the city where they believed there would be less opposition. That decision triggered long-standing and deep-seeded Native American resentments.
The Dakota Access Pipeline fight has become the new battlefront against new oil infrastructure in the US, replacing the highly controversial Keystone XL pipeline as the cause celebre. Various Sioux tribes opposed that pipeline and played an important role in its defeat, but DAPL has become the biggest issue in 100 years for Native Americans and has attracted thousands to the Standing Rock reservation where encampments were established and daily protests conducted.
When veterans joined the fight in large numbers to provide a protective buffer between protesters and overly aggressive police and security personnel, the protest reached a plateau that may have motivated the ACE to act.
While it is possible that the Trump Administration will approve the final permit, it will not be without controversy given the President-Elects’ investments in Energy Transfer Partners, LP. Also, with nearly 200 Native Tribes and First Nations from North and South American publicly supporting the Stand Rock Sioux, any further actions to complete the pipeline are likely to spark dangerous and potentially violent conflict.