Army Corps Denies Easement and Blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline

As thousands of veterans descended on Standing Rock, the Army Corps announced the $3.7 billion project won't proceed.

Published Dec. 4, 2016

The Army Corps of Engineers has denied the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline, according Colonel Henderson, who notified Veterans for Standing Rock co-organizer Michael A. Wood Jr. on 4 December 2016.

More than 3,000 veterans had converged at the Standing Rock camp to support the Sioux in their ongoing opposition to the building of a $3.7 billion pipeline that would cross through disputed land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Wood said upon learning of the move, "This is history."

Veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces arrived on 4 December 2016 by way of chartered buses, cars and planes to offer their support to the tribe in its months-long demonstration to protect its drinking water and sacred sites. The pipeline would have crossed land the tribe says the project violates a treaty that grants them the land and that they have opposed the project from the beginning:

Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline," the tribe said in a statement. "Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes."

The event — organized by veterans Wood and Wes Clark Jr. —raised more than $1 million after just two weeks, citing desire to protect the Sioux and demonstrators from violence.

Dean Hill, a Navy veteran and member of the Crow tribe, made the journey with family members from Spokane, Washington:

Our people have been violated for a long time. This generation has got to stand up, and that’s what we’re doing. All these people are coming because water is life. If you pollute the Missouri that’s going to affect a lot of people.

I think the veterans have influenced this a lot. We came out in numbers. We thought it would just be a few, but then we come to find out it’s over 3,000.

The U.S. Army released a statement on its web site:

"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," [Army's Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen] Darcy said. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."

Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.

The contentious proposed pipeline project would stretch more than 1,100 miles and transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil a day.  It would have crossed Lake Oahe, with the proposed crossing running half a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.