The US Army Corps of Engineers has granted the final easement necessary to finish construction on the controversial Dakota Access pipeline, dealing a major blow to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
President Donald Trump had issued an executive order to review the project quickly.
In a court filing the Army Corps said it would allow the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline to tunnel under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
The move is a blow to Native American tribes and environmental activists and North Dakota’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is expected to challenge the granting of the easement in court.
The restarting of the drilling operation began soon after the oil corporation was given the green light to proceed on Wednesday.
Press TV reports:
In a court filing on Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would allow the final 1.5 miles of the more than 1,700-mile pipeline to tunnel under the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
In doing so, the Army cut short its environmental impact study of the pipeline despite a January 18 notice that it would accept public comments on the project through February 20.
In a letter to Congress, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul Cramer said that “consistent with the direction” of President Trump’s memorandum, his agency would “waive its policy to wait 14 days after Congressional notification before granting an easement.”
He said that the easement will be granted “no earlier than 24 hours” after the delivery of the letter, which was dated February 7.
The decision sets the stage for a tense showdown at the site of the drilling, where native tribes and environmentalists have been camped for nearly a year in protest.
It also came after Trump issued an executive order in his first week in office to speed up the project.
Led by the Standing Rock Sioux, more than 100 Native American tribes have warned that the four-state pipeline would destroy their sacred sites and contaminate their water resources.
The protest movement has attracted high-profile political and celebrity support across the country.
Following Tuesday’s decision, the Standing Rock Sioux vowed to shut pipeline operations down if construction was completed.
“As Native peoples, we have been knocked down again, but we will get back up,” the tribe said in a statement. “We will rise above the greed and corruption that has plagued our peoples since first contact. We call on the Native Nations of the United States to stand together, unite and fight back.”