Protesters celebrate Army Corps’ decision on Dakota Access Pipeline

Dakota pipeline protesters

The company building the Dakota Access Pipeline is striking back after the Army Corps of Engineers rejected part of the pipeline route.

The Army Corps of Engineers is denying an easement allowing the four-state Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a portion of the Missouri River.

The proposed crossing is approximately half a mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation -- and their source for drinking water. In a statement the Army said they’re now considering a different pipeline crossing further north.

Energy Transfer Partners released a statement, calling the decision “politically-motivated.” It said the Obama Administration “abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.”

The eviction deadline was set for today, while protesters near Cannon Ball, N.D., were preparing to hunker down through the cold North Dakota winter.

But on Sunday afternoon when people learned the easement was denied and construction halted, they celebrated. Thousands danced, hugged, and played instruments.

“We can spend this winter with our families!” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II told correspondent Omar Villafranca. “We still have to remain peaceful; that’s what helped us win.”

For months, thousands of protestors had been camped out near the site with no plans to leave, despite freezing temperatures and clashes with police that led to more than 500 arrests. 

“The people, they came and they saved our home,” said tribe member Jumping Buffalo, for whom the ruling is an emotional victory. “This is my land. Everyone’s land. We’re all from here. Doesn’t matter what part of the country or the world you’re from. You’re welcome here.”

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, released a statement late Sunday calling the decision “purely political.” They said they have “done nothing but play by the rules,” and “fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting ... Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”

And this fight may not be over.

President-elect Donald Trump’s administration could reverse the Army Corps’ decision after he takes office on January 20. On Friday he voiced support of the pipeline; he currently has a modest stock holding in the company building it.

We reached out to Mr. Trump’s transition team for comment on this latest decision, and haven’t heard back.