Despite alleged indications to the contrary, Dakota Access Pipeline construction is going ahead full throttle, as the company anticipates the granting of easements under the Lake Oahe portion of the Missouri River.
According to Reuters, Army Corps spokesman Thomas O’Hara of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Omaha office had said on Monday November 8 that Energy Transfer Partners had “agreed to slow down construction,” in comments to Bloomberg News.
Energy Transfer Partners responded almost immediately.
“The statement released last night by the Army Corps was a mistake and the Army Corps intends to rescind it,” the company said in a statement on the same day. “To be clear, Dakota Access Pipeline has not voluntarily agreed to halt construction of the pipeline in North Dakota.”
Construction has been completed on both sides of the river, Dakota Access LLC said, “and is currently mobilizing horizontal drilling equipment to the drill box site in preparation for the tunneling under Lake Oahe.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not respond to requests for comment. Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier has called for the resignation of the Omaha district’s head, commander of the Omaha office, Commander and District Engineer of the Omaha District Colonel John W. Henderson, over comments concerning the DAPL resistance.
The equipment mobilization will take about another two weeks, after which drilling will begin, DAPL said, even though two easements have yet to be granted.
“Dakota Access remains confident that it will receive the easement for these two strips of land adjacent to Lake Oahe in a time frame that will not result in any significant delay in proceeding with drilling activities under Lake Oahe,” the company said. “Dakota Access previously received a permit from the Army Corps with respect the tunneling activities under Lake Oahe and Dakota Access has all other regulatory approvals and land rights to complete the crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.”
The $3.8 billion pipeline is being run a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, through tribal treaty lands and sacred burial sites. Efforts by unarmed water protectors to stop the progress of the 1,172-mile-long pipeline under the tribe’s main water source—as well as that of 17 million people downstream along the Missouri River—have been met with a military response.