Protests Erupt In 'Last Stand' Against Dakota Access Pipeline

In December, federal authorities halted construction of the pipeline in response to growing protests near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota.

The President's federal hiring freeze has affected the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has yet to review the project's environmental impact statement-a rigorous investigation of how the pipeline could harm land, water, wildlife, and humans.The freeze might also restrict the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Defense agency in charge of issuing permits for the pipeline, from hiring new staff to expedite the project.

The recent decision by the Corps represents a major setback to activists who had traveled from across the country and even internationally to gather in solidarity on the Standing Rock reservation to protest the construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline. (That case is still ongoing.) So the tribe would have to come back and ask yet again for an injunction - this time over the fact that the Army Corps chose to ignore an ongoing environmental review. The approval means that construction of the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline can proceed.

Construction on the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline has officially resumed and is expected to be available for use in less than three months.

Trump's approval is a blow to opponents who argued the pipeline would damage sites that are culturally significant to Native Americans and pose an environmental hazard where it crosses the Missouri River.

"Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement", Speer said.

But Trump's administration canceled the EIS process, waived other regulatory requirements and allowed for immediate construction.

The dramatic turnaround comes two weeks after President Donald Trump signed an executive action to urge a review of the pipeline and other energy projects, dismissing former President Barack Obama's efforts to block them. "And, it goes against the treaty rights of the entire Seven Councils Fires of the Sioux Nations".

But Energy Transfer Partners said it has begun drilling under Lake Oahe, which is part of the Missouri River system.

More than 70 people were arrested last week near the pipeline's route, when the Morton County Sheriff's office moved people off what it said was privately owned land. "The Trump administration - yet again - is poised to set a precedent that defies the law and the will of Americans and our allies around the world". The tribe's chairman, Dave Archambault II, asked activists not to return to the site of protests late past year and instead to take the fight to Washington where they will hold a rally in March.

"We call on the Native nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back", he said. It's promised to continue legal challenges. "This administration is ignoring them".

Stevens also touted the relative safety of pipelines, disputed tribal community assertions that indigenous peoples were not included in the pipeline's planning, and claimed that the pipeline did not disrupt areas of cultural significance.

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