Dakota Access Pipeline: What Happens Now?

After today’s landmark decision by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Dakota Access Pipeline has finally hit a proverbial brick wall. What happens now? Protesters against the pipeline’s construction have been camping in an impromptu tent village for over four months. Donald Trump is set for his presidential inauguration in January of 2017, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (a federal power) has ordered an environmental impact study of the pipeline’s route through Standing Rock.

Dakota Access Pipeline “Water Protectors”

Protesters at the Dakota Access Pipeline campsite have spent months demonstrating against the construction of a 20-mile section of the project that must cross underneath Lake Oahe to complete the 1,172-mile pipeline purposed for transporting oil to an existing terminal in Illinois. The lake connects to the Missouri River in North Dakota and is responsible for the reservations water supply. Sioux Indians and other demonstrators have begun calling themselves “Water Protecters” as they maintain the stance that water is life.

[Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

The President of the National Congress of American Indians stated in an email to Huffington Post that his “hands go up to all the water protectors who have stood up to protect tribal treaty rights and to protect Mother Earth.”

Now that the “Water Protectors” have had the joy of celebration over the refused easement, there is much reason to celebrate. Unfortunately, for many protesters, the fight is far from over. Many do no plan to vacate the land so easily. Donald Trump is “next in line” for president, and he will have the power to overturn Sunday’s decision. The “environmental study” simply provides time to stall the project in hopes that the new administration will reverse progress gained.

Donald Trump’s Takeover

Although the Sioux of Standing Rock have delayed the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and thrown their lives and bodies in the path of a much better equipped and powerful opponent, the fight is not yet finished. Donald Trump will be sworn into the Presidency on January 20 and everything could change. If Trump chooses to support the American Petroleum Institute and rejects the Obama administration’s decision to halt the pipeline’s construction, then activists are left standing in the warpath of big oil and big machinery once again (as if they have not already suffered enough). If dissenters are already being treated like animals by opposing authorities, then what are we to expect from a more strong-armed leader?

Without delay, shortly after public knowledge of the easement’s denial, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute summoned Trump’s support to “reject the Obama administration’s shameful actions to deny this vital energy project… and make this project’s approval a top priority as he takes office in January.”

Dave Archambault II, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman and resident camper against the Dakota Access Pipeline, spoke of the incoming administration saying that he hoped that the President-elect would “respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point.”

The Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Legally, how does Donald Trump have anything to do with reversing the decision made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt progress on the Dakota Access Pipeline? Well, the legal mumbo jumbo involved in the final decision on the construction is an endless web of red tape. The change in our country’s administration could ultimately change federal opinions on the pipeline and grant access to the land. Donald is not exactly known for his environmental awareness or sense of humanity. It is important that activists stand their ground until the smoke has cleared. It looks as though the “Water Protectors” will stand to fight another day… or month(s).

[Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

[Featured Image by David Goldman/AP Images]

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