Department of the Army to issue final DAPL easement by Wednesday afternoon 

By C.S. Hagen 
CANNON BALL – A digital wail resounded across the Internet Tuesday afternoon after the Department of the Army announced it would be authorizing the final easement needed for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe. 

Claiming rights under the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, the Army issued an intent to grant an easement on 7.37 acres of land to Dakota Access LLC for 30 years, the letter stated. 

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is not mentioned once in the letter from the Department of the Army, nor in a January 24 letter written by President Trump to the Secretary of the Army. 

The issuance of the easement was influenced by the letter of expedition from the White House concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that completion of the pipeline served national interest.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under development by Dakota Access, LLC, represents a substantial, multi-billion-dollar private investment in our Nation’s energy infrastructure,” Trump wrote. 

Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul Cramer referred to Trump’s letter, waiving its policy to wait 14 days after Congressional notification to grant the easement. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map of pipeline crossing Missouri River

The easement is expected to be officially granted within 24 hours. Energy Transfer Partners is allowed to begin horizontal drilling across the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, approximately one mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as soon as the easement is granted. 

Despite the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers January 18 filing with the Federal Register that its department would conduct an environmental impact study on the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route and easement to cross Lake Oahe, no mention was made about either the continuing testimonial session, which was announced to end February 20, or if the study would continue. 

Energy Transfer Partners, a parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline, reported its stock surged 0.8 percent after receiving news of the impending approval, according to Bloomberg.

The announcement sent shock waves through Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

“Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters has announced their decision to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said on their Facebook page. “We will admit that we are disappointed, but we are not defeated. We will take this to the highest court. The battle is not over and we will not be silenced.” 

The tribe plans to challenge the easement decision on the grounds that the environmental impact study was wrongfully terminated. It has asked Dakota Access LLC to disclose its oil spill and risk assessment records, and if construction continues the tribe will seek to shut down pipeline operations. 

On March 10, Standing Rock also plans to hold a Native Nations March on Washington D.C.

“As native peoples, we have been knocked down again,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said. “But we will get back up, we will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact. We call on the Native Nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back. Under this administration, all of our rights, everything that makes us who we are is at risk.”  

“December 4 was no victory at all,” attorney and long time activist Chase Iron Eyes said. Iron Eyes ran for congress in North Dakota in 2016, and since November has been spending much of his time at the camps outside of Cannon Ball. 

“Trump’s Army corps approved the death of our river,” Iron Eyes said. “We didn’t win. They told us to go home because ‘we won,’ ‘our prayers were answered.’ My daughter cried tears of joy in a false, hollow, meaningless ‘victory.’ Where is your heart at? 

“Mine is going to be on the frontline on behalf of my children.” 

Sacred Stone Camp announced a Last Stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline set to begin Wednesday. 

Facebook posts expressed sorrow at the news. 

“Where are you Standing Rock?” a person by the name of Che Jim posted from Indianapolis. “Where are you Tribal Council? Where are you chairman? We were just sentenced of failure.” 

“We only have a 24-hour window that we’re going to proceed with more legal action, and people are coming back from all over,” Phyllis Young, a former councilwoman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Central Oceti Sakowin camp organizer, said in an interview made public by Digital Smoke Signals. “We are all in challenging spirit, more challenging than ever. But we are who we are, and we will do whatever we have to do to protect our homeland and our water.

“We knew this was coming. We knew the giant America is when they want their pipeline. We have experience when they built their dams, they came rushing in – the waters – and it was January. Now for them to take our water is an act of genocide, an act of war.” 

North Dakota politicians expressed support for the Army Corps’ decision. 

“As we’ve said before, the issue of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been at a standstill for far too long, causing uncertainty and confusion in our communities, and exacerbating tensions surrounding the pipeline’s construction,” House Democratic-NPL Leader Corey Mock said in a press release.

 “With today’s news that the Army Corps will approve the easement for the pipeline’s completion, North Dakotans finally have a measure of certainty that this process will move forward. In the immediate future, for the safety of everyone involved, all parties must heed the calls of the Standing Rock Sioux and our governor for the remaining protesters to leave the camp north of Cannonball River before flood season sets in.”

“As this issue moves toward a final resolution, we must remain committed to repairing and rebuilding relationships within our communities and with our tribal neighbors,” said Senate Dem-NPL Leader Joan Heckaman said in a press release. 

“Rebuilding trust was a priority that Governor Burgum emphasized in his State of the State address, and we continue to believe this is absolutely necessary, especially as steps are taken to complete construction of the pipeline and as flood season approaches, potentially endangering those who remain at the camps. Our highest priority must continue to be the safety of everyone involved – protesters, law enforcement, construction workers and members of the surrounding communities.”