As what will likely be the case with many of the new president’s policies and proclamations, the Dakota Access Pipeline may move forward as initially planned—even though many thought it wouldn’t.
Although protesters of the pipeline got a victory in December, when the Army Corps under President Barack Obama denied the easement that would have allowed construction to continue, President Donald Trump’s executive order may rescind the December action and allow construction of the pipeline to continue.
In fact, Reuters reports that Greg Garland, the chief executive officer of Phillips 66, which has a 25 percent stake in the pipeline, said Friday that he expects it to start operations in the second quarter, even though the project is still in the midst of legal battles and a U.S. regulatory review. The $3.8 billion project is led by Energy Transfer Partners.
Tribal leaders, activists and environmentalists believe that the 1,170-mile pipeline will accelerate climate change and could desecrate sacred burial grounds and pollute water sources.
The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump administration was dispatching Bureau of Indian Affairs agents to help clear Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Michael S. Black said that the camps themselves pose a threat to the environment. Corps officials have said that the extended protests have contributed to soil erosion that could make any potential spring flooding worse.
Authorities arrested 74 protesters Wednesday, some of whom moved to higher land owned by Energy Transfer Partners.
“The closing of the camps is a matter of public health and safety, and working together at this time will allow for the safe removal of waste and debris that will impact the local environment and protection of those camped,” said Black.
Interestingly, the Post reports that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe agrees with the government at least on this, and passed a tribal resolution asking protesters to leave and requesting federal aid in closing the camp.
“The fight is no longer here, but in the halls and courts of the federal government,” tribe Chairman David Archambault II said Thursday, according to the Washington Times. “Here at the camp, those who remain should be working together to help clean and restore the land.”