Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not granted a permit, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline announced Tuesday that it is preparing to drill under Lake Oahe on the Missouri River in the next two weeks.
As previously reported on The Root, resistance to the $3.8 billion pipeline has been strong from the beginning. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe argues that pipeline construction is desecrating sacred ancestral lands and that the pipeline itself endangers the Sioux’s major water suppliers: Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. Demonstrations in North Dakota have been going on for months and have resulted in a construction halt in the area immediately surrounding Lake Oahe.
Construction on the rest of the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline has continued, and so have the demonstrations. As law-enforcement response to the demonstrations grew more aggressive and violent, public notice and outcry increased, prompting President Barack Obama to be questioned about the issue in a Nov. 1 interview with NowThis. He said that he thought there were ways “for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans” and that the Army Corps of Engineers was looking at ways to reroute the pipeline.
The demonstrators, known as “water protectors,” said last week that they were told by the Army Corps of Engineers that if the permit was granted, construction would be delayed by at least 30 days, according to a report from Democracy Now. On Tuesday, Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, said in a statement that there was no such agreement and that construction would be continuing. The company said that it had completed construction on both sides of Lake Oahe and was “mobilizing equipment” to prepare for drilling under the lake. Energy Transfer also said that it expected to have what it needs in two weeks. At that point, construction will continue.
“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 in its statement.
WDAY reports that on Wednesday the Army Corps of Engineers renewed its request for Dakota Access Pipeline construction to stop near Lake Oahe.
“We are concerned over recent statements from DAPL regarding our request to voluntarily stop work, which are intended to diffuse tensions surrounding their operations near Corps-managed federal land until we have a clear path forward,” Col. John W. Henderson, commander of the Omaha district, said in a statement released Wednesday, WDAY reports.
Drone footage released by Ecowatch reportedly shows barriers, normally used to protect U.S. military bases in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting what is believed to be the drill-box site for going under Lake Oahe.
In the meantime, protests against the pipeline continue, including a planned day of action on Nov. 15. On that day, demonstrators in dozens of cities including Akron, Ohio, will gather at local offices of the Army Corps of Engineers and ask that it help stop construction on the pipeline.