Army halts Dakota Access pipeline, but protesters know their work isn’t done

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe celebrated a major victory Sunday after the Army stopped work on the Dakota Access oil pipeline being heavily protested. The pipeline is nearly complete, except for the section that was supposed to run through Native American sacred land, and the Army Corps of Engineers denying the builder a necessary permit halted the project. However, protesters know the good news isn’t a total win yet, and plan to continue to fight for their land and safe drinking water.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, is still dedicated to finishing construction through the contested land in North Dakota. “The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency,” Energy Transfer Partners said in a statement Sunday. The company also said it’s “fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe,” adding, “Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”

Despite Energy Transfer Partners’ commitment to the previously planned route, Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, said in a statement Sunday, “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” She suggested that the pipeline undergo an environmental impact statement, which won’t be a quick process. Since President Obama cares more about the environment and marginalized groups, if the project rolls over into President Trump’s first term, the DAPL is more likely to become a reality (especially since Trump has a financial stake in the company building it). So, while an environmental impact statement was welcome news to protesters, the longer time frame could cause more problems come January.

As Pro-DAPL Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now said in a statement responding to the news, “With President-elect Trump set to take office in just a few weeks, we are hopeful that this is not the final word on the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

The protesters at Standing Rock celebrated the news with drumming, dancing, and fireworks, but they plan to fight until it’s absolutely clear the pipeline won’t go through the sacred land, while more environmentally-minded protesters want the whole pipeline trashed. A Standing Rock member named Ghost, told USA Today, “It’s not over. It’s never over. They say one thing and do another.”