Trump’s Administration orders Army Corps to issue long-embattled final easement for Dakota Access Pipeline, Veterans Stand may return to Standing Rock

By C.S. Hagen
–  Nearly two months after the Standing Rock’s victory against big oil, Trump’s Administration is trying to take it away. 

Senator John Hoeven, R-N.D. reported the Army Corps has been ordered to proceed with the easement needed under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. 

“Today, the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed us that he has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Hoeven said. “This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream.”

No mentions were made by Hoeven of negotiations, or of a reroute, or of the current environmental impact study issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Earlier in January, President Trump also signed executive orders reviving the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to expedite studies pertaining to environmental impact. 

The decision to issue the go-ahead clashes with the environmental impact study, which could take months or years to complete. A comment period is currently underway and will continue until February 20, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. 

Thousands, and then hundreds of activists remained at Oceti Oyate, or All Nations Camp, outside of Cannon Ball during the freezing winter months in opposition to the pipeline. Due to cleanup efforts and impending spring floods, the main camp is emptying. 

Coals from the Oceti Oyate were carried to western high ground Wednesday morning, attorney and long-term activist Chase Iron Eyes reported. 

“This is the start of what’s called Last Child’s Camp,” Iron Eyes said. “That name was chosen to honor Crazy Horse and the only warrior society he was known to create. For many reasons, one of those reasons being the last children that are born usually have it harder and have to struggle more.

“Our conscience won’t let us back down. DAPL seeks to bring death to our children. The easement to drill under the river is set to be granted. Ready our hearts.” 

Iron Eyes called upon anyone interested and strong enough to endure the remaining cold months to join them.

Activists surround new fire at the Last Child’s Camp – video still provided by Chase Iron Eyes

Archambault has written to President Trump at least twice asking for a face-to-face meeting between leaders. All requests have not been answered, Archambault said. 

“This change in course is arbitrary and without justification,” Archambault wrote in a letter to President Trump. “The law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the President’s whim. It makes it even more difficult when one considers the close personal ties you and your associates have had with Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco.”

President Trump and Hoeven, along with other North Dakota politicians, stand to gain financially if the pipeline is completed. 

“Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners,” according to Bloomberg. “That’s down from between $500,000 and $1 million a year earlier.”

Trump also owns up to $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access Pipeline. Owner and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of Dakota Access Pipeline, Kelcy Warren, contributed $3,000 to Trump’s campaign plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy, and $66,800 to the Republican National Committee. 

In 2016, Hoeven’s largest campaign contributor was the oil and gas sector with a total of $327,963, including Continental Resources, Inc. and its CEO, Harold Hamm, who collectively donated $8,200. The Hess Corp contributed a total of $20,800 to Hoeven’s 2016 campaign. ExxonMobil contributed $10,000, and Whiting Petroleum Corporation contributed $2,750. Energy Transfer Partners donated $5,000 to Hoeven’s 2016 campaign. Hoeven has invested in 68 different oil-producing wells in North Dakota listed under the 2012-company Mainstream Investors, LLC, according to the United States Senate financial disclosure form.

In a move many deem contradictory because of apparent disregard to Standing Rock’s repeated petitions, Hoeven, a long-time supporter of pipelines, was also elected chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on January 5, according to a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs press release.

Hoeven said he was honored to serve on the committee, but added two of his top priorities were to address job creation and natural resource management issues on native lands. He has also called upon federal assistance, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to clear the camps outside of Cannon Ball. 

“We are also working with the Corps, the Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of Homeland Security to secure additional federal law enforcement resources to support state and local law enforcement,” Hoeven said. “On Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local authorities. Also, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has asked the protesters to leave the campsite on Corps land.

“This has been a difficult issue for all involved, particularly those who live and work in the area of the protest site, and we need to bring it to a peaceful resolution.”

Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a long-time advocate of the 1,172-mile long Dakota Access Pipeline, said in press releases he couldn’t be happier with the way the government under President Trump is heading. 

“The meddling by the Obama Administration in trying to block this legally permitted project has encouraged civil disobedience, threatened the safety of local residents, and placed an onerous financial burden on local law enforcement – with no offer of federal reimbursement for these increasing costs,” Cramer said. “Legally permitted infrastructure projects must be allowed to proceed without threat of improper governmental interference. Finally we have a President who will stand by our efforts in Congress to bring common sense to an immigration policy in dire need of reform.” 

The Indigenous Environmental Network condemned the order given to the Army Corps. 

“We are falling into a dangerous place where the United States government makes up its own rules,” the network stated in a press release. The Indigenous Environmental Network is a nonprofit organization and supporter of Standing Rock and other environmental and indigenous issues.

“We are disgusted but not surprised by the Secretary of the Army’s decision to recommend the easement on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead of following proper legal procedure and completing the Environmental Impact Study, the Army has chosen to escalate an already tense situation, go against their own processes, and potentially put peoples in harm’s way.

“Trump and his climate denying cabinet are clearly doing what is best for their businesses and are willing to put profit before human rights and the environment. But make no mistake: we are prepared to mobilize and resist this brazen power grab.”

A group identified as Veterans Stand said it will continue to support Standing Rock and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“In response to recent aggressions and the passing of legislation which clears the way for the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Veterans Stand is announcing that we will continue operations in support of the people of Standing Rock, the Water Protectors who have held the front lines, and the sustainability of our precious environment.

“In the spirit of service, and in the name of a free and evolutionary sustainable America, Veterans Stand is committed to ensuring that no human or civil rights violations go unchecked, that the voices of the people are truly heard, and that we leave behind a stable and unpolluted environment for future generations.”