Just hours before the Monday morning deadline to end the Standing Rock protests, the Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday that the federal government would not approve permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a dammed section of the Missouri River.
Through the weekend, thousands of American military veterans arrived at the Sacred Stone camp in Cannon Ball, ND, where water protectors have been focusing national attention by blocking progress on the pipeline.
That seemed to be leading to a showdown, as North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple set a deadline of Monday, Dec. 5 for the camp to be vacated.
During the past four months, the camp has become a functioning city. Veterans of U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have been traveling to the site to serve as human shields, located between local law enforcement and indigenous activists. Presumably the paramilitary police and National Guardsmen, who have been using vicious tactics on the water protectors, would be reluctant to open fire on others who have served in uniform.
The result of the Standing Rock protest demonstrates what happens when there are real protests and public awareness is focused on an issue.
The New York Times reported that on Sunday, the Army’s assistant secretary for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, said that the decision was based on a need to consider different paths for the pipeline. [See map of the project here.]
“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Darcy said in a statement.
“The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
While President-elect Donald Trump has said he supports the pipeline and would allow it to go through, Dave Archambault II, the Standing Rock Sioux chairman, claimed victory. “It’s over,” he said.
“I know there will be questions about the next administration, but I think it’s our opportunity to educate and help” the new administration on understanding the issues. “I’m thankful that there were some leaders in the federal government who realized that something is not right even though it’s legal, and heard for the first time in history American Indian issues, heard our voices, and had the courage to take the initiative and make the right decision,” Archambault said in an interview with Tammy Leitner broadcast tonight by NBC News.
The Army Corps of Engineers, a lead agency for the private project, said it would study alternative routes that go around water supplies and that do not disrupt native burial grounds. Additionally, they called for a full environmental impact study, which has never been done.
More details on Tuesday’s Planet Waves FM.