WASHINGTON – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not authorize construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Corps land even though a federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction.
The Corps issued a joint statement Friday with the Department of Justice and the Department of Interior that said important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline remain.
“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws,” the statement read.
The agency said it will move expeditiously to make the determination and provide a clear and timely resolution. The Corps requested that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
A spokeswoman for Dakota Access Pipeline declined to comment.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the tribe’s request for injunction Friday, Sept. 9, in the tribe’s lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Boasberg wrote that after reviewing the extensive record, the corps has likely complied with the National Historic Preservation Act while the tribe has not shown it will suffer injury that would be prevented by any injunction the court could issue. The parties are scheduled to meet for a status conference on Sept. 16.
The statement from the three federal agencies also said the case highlights the need for “a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform” on considering tribes’ views on infrastructure projects.
The agencies said this fall they will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on what the federal government should do to better ensure meaningful tribal input and whether new legislation should be proposed to Congress.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II is expected to speak from the North Dakota Capitol shortly after 3 p.m. Friday.
Archambault has said the tribe intends to continue looking for legal options to fight the pipeline.
“It’s the beginning of a continuing legal battle,” Archambault said Thursday while speaking to pipeline opponents who are camping north of the reservation.
“We have respected and protected the right of individuals to protest even when protests have disrupted our community,” Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Shulz said in a statement released after the ruling. “It is now clear and obvious the fight needs to be moved from Morton County to a courtroom in Washington, D.C.”
Shulz added that protesters should “respect the rule of law and the right for all citizens to live and travel in peace,” and urged them to shift efforts to judicial or legislative solutions.
The $3.8 billion pipeline will carry 450,000 barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota to Illinois. The tribe sued the corps over its permit for the Missouri River crossing, arguing the federal agency failed to properly consult the tribe. Tribal leaders say the pipeline will destroy sacred sites and threatens the reservation’s water supply.
The corps argues in court records it “followed a robust tribal consultation process” and said Standing Rock withdrew from a scheduled site visit of the proposed Lake Oahe crossing, a dammed section of the Missouri River.
North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple activated the North Dakota National Guard Thursday in anticipation of the ruling. About a dozen Guard members are manning a traffic information point on State Highway 1806 to free up law enforcement to have a visible presence near the protest site.
A protest is planned at the North Dakota Capitol from until 6 p.m. Friday.