The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday it will grant Energy Transfer Partners the final easement to build the Dakota Access Pipeline—bypassing an environmental impact assessment requested by former President Barack Obama.
The Corps announced its decision in a letter to congressman Raúl Grijalva, who serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources. In the letter, Army officials said they plan to grant ETP a permit to complete the “installation, construction, operation, [and] maintenance,” of the pipeline, which will cross nearly 7.4 acres at Lake Oahe Dam and Reservoir, a major source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux. Officials also announced the easement could be granted as early as Wednesday, giving the tribe and other DAPL opponents little time to take legal action.
The decision arrived two weeks after Donald Trump signed executive orders to expedite construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. The move was quickly criticized by protestors.
"President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process," Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement. "Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream."
Trump's team responded to the criticism, stating the decision was in the best interest of the country. Others pointed out that the president was an investor in ETP, and had a clear financial interest in the construction of DAPL.
“This is the definition of corruption,” Mary Sweeters of Greenpeace told the Guardian. “The president of the United States should not be trading favors with oil and gas corporations. Millions of people will lose access to a clean water supply, including the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, and the rest of America will face the impacts of catastrophic climate change from burning fossil fuels.”