The Army Corps of Engineers has reportedly called off all construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, attributing the abrupt halt to conducting further environmental studies. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe released a statement earlier today, expressing their support for the decision.
"Today, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline," Standing Rock Sioux Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement released to BuzzFeed. "Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes."
The Sioux tribe also thanked President Obama for his assistance. "We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing," it continued. "It took tremendous courage to take a new approach to our nation-to-nation relationship, and we will be forever grateful."
The people of the Sioux tribe previously argued in court that the pipeline would cross "water of utmost cultural, spiritual, ecological, and economic, significance." They reportedly feared that if the pipeline were to leak, it would contaminate their main access to water. Assistant Army Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy claimed the decision to cease construction was based off of the desire to explore other alternatives that didn't invade the tribe's water supply. "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 stated. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
Bernie Sanders took to Twitter after the news was announced, stating that he was pleased with the decision, but the movement was not yet over. "I appreciate @POTUS listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built," Bernie tweeted. Many others followed the politician, rejoicing in the decision. "Fantastic! !! Hopefully a start to turn things around in our nation. Thanks to all who endured cold and the violence of the state," one person tweeted.
Since Aug. 2016, nearly thousands of protesters have camped out on the reservation to stand against the construction of the 1,172-mile long, which was designed to transport oil across the Midwest, directly threatening the tribe's water supply. Standing Rock made headlines again after the protesters were hit with tear gas and water hoses after an alleged altercation between them and authorities. It is definitely a small victory in a long, uphill battle.