CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it won't grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota.
Corps spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.
Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to "explore alternate routes" for the pipeline's crossing.
The route has been the subject of months of protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.
The company constructing the pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, and the Morton County Sheriff's Office didn't have immediate comment.
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U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that the Department of Justice will still monitor the protest in North Dakota and is ready to "provide resources" for those who "can play a constructive role in easing tensions."
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the Corps' decision "is a serious mistake," ''prolongs the serious problems" that law enforcement faces and "prolongs the dangerous situation" of people camping in cold, snowy conditions.
The federal government has ordered the several hundred people at the main encampment, which is on Corps land, by Monday. Lynch said in a statement that the safety of those in the area, including officers, residents and protesters, "continues to be our foremost concern."
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