Environment

US Army Corps of Engineers to grant easement for Dakota Access Pipeline

Strategy Room: David Mercer and Brad Blakeman weigh in on what could come of the Dakota Access Pipeline after President Trump signed executive orders today

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced to Congress Tuesday that it will grant the final easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.

President Trump revived the controversial project by signing an executive order in his first week of office after protests from climate activists and Native American tribes delayed the line's completion.

The Justice Department filed court documents including letters to members of Congress from Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Paul Cramer. The Army intends to allow the crossing under Lake Oahe as early as Wednesday.

The crossing is the final big chunk of work on the $3.8 billion pipeline.

Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer said the decision was made based on a sufficient amount of information already available which supported approval to grant the easement.

"Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement," Speer announced in a statement.  "Once that it done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017."

North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven issued a statement praising the Army’s easement:

“Our nation needs new energy infrastructure, which means we must have a process to build safe, efficient and environmentally sound projects like pipelines and power lines. Going forward, we need to review the permitting process to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard and that a fair, certain, and legal process has been followed.”

Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp says the Army's announcement brings the pipeline conflict one step closer to resolution. She says it "delivers the certainty and clarity" she's been demanding.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe worries a pipeline leak could pollute drinking water and promised to continue legal challenges. 

Tribal attorney Jan Hasselman said the government "will be held accountable in court." He says the specifics of the tribe's challenge are being worked out.

Dallas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline is safe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.