UPDATE: The Obama administration said late Friday afternoon that no decision has been made on the disputed easement for the Dakota Access pipeline.
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Even as water protectors continued to face off against police on Friday in North Dakota, news outlets reported that the Obama administration is set to approve the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) as early as Monday.
Citing “two sources familiar with the timing,” Politico said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could approve a disputed easement within days, which would allow pipeline construction—on hold since September—to continue across the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation. The Standing Rock tribe is vehemently opposed to the project, saying it threatens water supplies and sacred sites.
Amid such opposition, Politico reported, “the prospect of a Monday announcement is raising concerns that nationwide protests planned for Tuesday could turn uncivil.”
“That risk of escalating tension may yet prompt the administration to postpone its decision until later in the week,” the outlet continued, “to add additional safety requirements to the easement that the Army Corps of Engineers first put on hold in September—or to change course entirely.”
Meanwhile, according to Reuters, at least 39 protesters were arrested at the construction site in Mandan, North Dakota, on Friday.
Pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners said earlier this week it was mobilizing drilling equipment in preparation to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River. The Army Corps had previously asked the company to “voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe,” and on Friday it suggested that to do so might result in fines or legal action.
Still, Donald Trump’s election on Tuesday led many to believe the $3.7 billion pipeline’s completion was all but inevitable.
Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren—a donor to Trump’s campaign—said Friday on “CBS This Morning” that he was “100 percent confident” the president-elect would ensure DAPL is built.
Now, it seems he won’t even have to wait that long.
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