Obama Administration Jumps Into Dakota Access Pipeline Fight

The Obama administration blocked the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline, at least temporarily, on Friday after a court had ruled that its construction was legal.

The Army Corps of Engineers will not authorize the pipeline’s construction on federal land bordering or under Lake Oahe, “until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider” earlier steps it took to authorize the pipeline, the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and Department of the Interior announced in a joint statement on Friday.

The departments said the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations raised concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline and pipeline-related decision making, and the Army Corps of Engineers needs to determine if it needs to reconsider any previous decisions it made concerning the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act or any other federal laws. The departments also asked the pipeline company to voluntarily pause construction within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.

The departments invited tribes to participate in formal, government-to-government consultations to get input on how the government can do better to include tribal input when it comes to infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and if new legislation needs to be proposed to Congress to guarantee that input.

The decision to halt the Army Corp’s construction, came after U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to block construction on the $3.8 billion pipeline, saying it was likely the Army complied with the National Historic Preservation Act in its decision to grant permits for the project.

“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act,” the departments said in a joint statement. “However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.”