While a major win for #NoDAPL and the Standing Rock Sioux, but there’s still a lot of questions regarding the pipeline’s future.
For months now, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) had been met with opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux – the local Native American tribe that are near the pipeline’s construction site – and protesters that are sympathetic to their cause. In fact, protests at the pipeline’s construction site had gotten pretty heated over the last few weeks.
With North Dakota’s governor recently ordering the evacuation of protesters from the Standing Rock protest site, the Standing Rock Sioux’s challenge over the pipeline looked to be coming to an end, but yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers decided to block the route of DAPL. In other words, the construction of the pipeline has been halted for the time being. While the recent news might sound straight forward, there’s a lot to unpack here!
(Important Note: If you didn’t read our 10-Point Expert about the Dakota Access Pipeline yet, you really should! It will give you the proper background to understanding the story better. You can find it here.)
- Let’s not mince words, the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) blocking the construction of DAPL is a HUGE win for the Standing Rock Sioux! Especially after the order of evacuation from North Dakota’s governor, it looked as if the construction of the pipeline was inevitable. But with the USACE blocking the construction and saying that it won’t allow DAPL to cross the Missouri River into Lake Oahe, for the time being anyway, the pipeline’s construction has stopped. However…
- As we say in our 10-Point Expert, the majority of the DAPL has already been built. Also if you consider the money being put into the project by Energy Transfer Partners ($3.8 billion!!), it’s hard to imagine the pipeline not getting built eventually. While we’re not saying it will get built anytime soon, but with the official position of the USACE saying they’re looking at “alternative routes”, people should start seeing this move as a stoppage in construction rather than DAPL being scrapped completely.
- Now the question that Standing Rock protesters have to ask themselves is, how far are they willing to protest over this? Or more specifically, would they be satisfied if DAPL is still built, but reroutes around the Standing Rock Sioux’s contested area? It’s a hard question to answer, because the Standing Rock protesters are made up on many groups with very different motivations. It’s very possible that those who are protesting DAPL over tribal sovereignty will find the rerouting acceptable, while environmentalists would still be passionate in shutting down the pipeline completely.
- Also there’s the question of what President-Elect Donald Trump thinks about all of this?! While there are many Republicans that have sounded off on DAPL’s halt in construction, with how much publicity the controversial pipeline has gotten, for Trump just to create an executive order to continue its construction would have real political consequences. Even though Trump has said he supports the construction of DAPL, but with it now being such a politically divisive issue, it’s easy to see Trump staying away from it and letting it playout naturally.
- There’s also the possibility of this issue becoming entangled in the courts. Many legal experts have stated it’s entirely possible that companies/organizations that want to see the completion of the pipeline could challenge USACE’s order of stopping construction through an injunction. So in other words, the battle over DAPL is far from over.
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