Dakota Oil Pipeline: Can Donald Trump Reverse Obama Decision To Block Dakota Access Pipeline?

While the decision made today by the Obama administration and the Corps of Engineers to block and redirect the Dakota Access Pipeline — so it veers away from the lake Native Americans have been protesting to protect— seems to have settled the matter, is this really true? After all, in just over a month there will be a very different man in the White House. Who knows what will happen once Trump is President?

According to Politico, the oil company friends of Donald Trump are far from pleased with this result, so would it be possible for Trump to switch back to the original plan once he's in office? There's certainly no reason to think he wouldn't be perfectly willing to do so.

Why This Happened

As reported by CNN, the Sioux tribe in the area in question has been carrying out a large and relentless protest of the decision to run a section of the Dakota Access oil pipeline under a lake near their reservation.

As a number of them have pointed out to the media, this lake — although outside the reservation as such— is still a vital water source for people in the area and a leaking oil pipeline underneath it poses a potential hazard to the health of the local population, humans and animals.

Numerous attempts have been made to remove the protesters, including the use of violence in the form of water hoses, rubber bullets, and stun grenades. Not only did this fail, but protesters from across the country — including retired members of the military — came to join the tribe in its efforts to block the pipeline.

Obama Finally Acts

Many people had wondered just why President Obama — who as the outgoing President would seem to have nothing to lose by doing so — hasn't long before now issued orders to the Corps of Engineers to change the direction of the pipeline.

After all, it's not as if they hadn't done it before. It was the decision to move it away from Bismarck that sent it by the Sioux reservation. But nevertheless, the administration has finally issued the order and that's that. Right?

Protesters camped near Dakota oil pipeline.
Protesters camped near Dakota oil pipeline. [Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

So Can The Decision Be Reversed?

Can Trump choose to reverse the decision to block the Dakota oil pipeline route? The short answer is yes. So is the long answer. Not only can Trump reverse Obama's decision, according to some he is almost certainly going to. Trump has extremely close ties to the oil industry, and he has considered a number of prominent oil executives for his cabinet.

In addition, Trump has made it clear over the last year that he abhors regulations of any kind. Despite the fact that most modern societies are trying to move away from fossil fuels like oil and coal, Trump's campaign rhetoric indicates a desire to deregulate them almost entirely.

Worse, the natives now protesting will probably find a very different situation if they choose to return to protesting following a Trump reversal of this decision. Donald Trump has in campaign speeches flatly stated that he has no problem with violence being used against protesters.

Native Americans celebrate a halt in drilling for the Dakota oil pipeline
[Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]

Trump's, "You know what we used to do, carry them out on a stretcher" statement makes it plain he won't be tolerant of protesters and resistance of any kind. It might well be that the response by the government under Trump to these protests will be far more violent and aggressive than anything they have seen so far.

In the end then, it seems likely that the Dakota oil pipeline is going to go through. The oil companies will have a friend in the White House, and he will protect their interests. The Natives Americans will — as usual — get the short end of the stick.

[Featured Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images]