In an unexpected move, the Army Corps of Engineers filed court papers yesterday (February 7) to push the Dakota Access Pipeline through, as ordered by Donald Trump’s presidential memorandum January 24.
The Department of Justice attorney Matthew Marinelli, who represents the Army, said in a procedural meeting yesterday (February 6) that the department was finalizing its decision and would announce it Friday (February 10) at the earliest.
Instead, the Army filed a memorandum today to issue the easement within 24 hours and immediately terminate the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process for the Lake Oahe crossing of the Missouri River. The Army writes that its previous environmental analyses are sufficient. The comment period on the EIS had opened January 18, and organizers were guiding supporters and allies to the appropriate place to submit comments. It’s unclear what will happen to comments already submitted.
“The Obama administration correctly found that the Tribe’s treaty rights must be respected, and that the easement should not be granted without further review and consideration of alternative crossing locations,” said Jan Hasselman, the lead attorney representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in a statement. “Trump’s reversal of that decision continues a historic pattern of broken promises to Indian Tribes and a violation of Treaty rights. Trump and his administration will be held accountable in court.”
Already, the Sacred Stone Camp, which was the first to occupy land in resistance to the 1,172-mile long pipeline, has taken to Facebook to denounce this decision.
They wrote in a post:
Further threats to the water are clearly imminent. When the easement is granted, we're asking for mass-distributed actions in support of water protectors and the [Standing Rock Sioux Tribe] who will file for temporary restraining order and an injunction to halt construction, but as we've seen before those filings will not stop the machines from digging into Unci Maka, Mother Earth.
Construction could begin at any time. If you go to Standing Rock, expect police violence, mass arrests, felony charges for just about anything, abuse while in custody, targeted persecution and racial profiling while driving around the area, etc.
The latest interaction between law enforcement and water protectors who remain camped near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation ended in 76 arrests and growing tension between those who remain at the camps and the tribe’s leadership council. "The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk," said Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "We are a sovereign nation, and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration."
Other public figures have shared their thoughts on the decision via Twitter:
Anyone who thinks colonialism is history should look at what the oil industry and the US Army are doing to Native Americans tonite #NoDAPL
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) February 7, 2017
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) February 7, 2017
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 7, 2017