Obama admin: No decision yet on controversial oil pipeline
The Obama administration on Friday denied a report that it had decided to give final approval to the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline.
“The process is ongoing and no decisions have been made,” an administration official told Politico.
Politico had reported earlier Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers would announce approval as early as Monday, citing two sources familiar with the plans.
Approval would be a major defeat to environmentalists, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its American Indian allies, just days after Republican Donald Trump’s election to be the next president.
Opponents of the $3.7 billion pipeline say it would destroy sites that are sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and threaten its water supply, and that further build-outs of fossil fuel infrastructure threaten to exacerbate climate change.
Developer Energy Transfer Partners is almost done with the portion of the pipeline in North Dakota, and just needs a final Army Corps easement to build under Lake Oahe.
An Army Corps spokesman said it will announce something “in the next few days” about the next steps for Dakota Access.
The Army Corps’ decision regarding the pipeline has been on hold since September, when the agency decided to pause its consideration while it reviews its consultations with Indian tribes.
The site of the pipeline near the lake has been home to protesters for months now. Dozens of pipeline opponents have been camped out there, the site of numerous violent skirmishes with law enforcement.
Greens have sought to turn Dakota Access into a new iteration of the Keystone XL pipeline, making it a battle over the future of fossil fuels and energy policy.
The oil industry and the pipeline’s supporters, meanwhile have framed the issue as a debate over the rule of law. They’ve accused Obama of ignoring the law by sitting on the easement.
Obama said earlier this month that his administration was looking into options to reroute the pipeline away from the Standing Rock reservation.