The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says a “rogue group of protesters” have put their cause at risk after reports that the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline project may have cleared a final hurdle.
At least 70 people were arrested near the camp Wednesday as tensions flared again after two North Dakota lawmakers said work would continue on the stalled pipeline.
Now, depending on whom you ask, that last part of the pipeline — a hotly contested portion under the Missouri River that’s been the focus of the massive protests — could be on the road to completion.
Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer “has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement. Hoeven said he spoke with Speer on Tuesday.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, also a North Dakota Republican, said he received word that the Army Corps will grant final approval and that congressional notification of the decision was “imminent.”
The Standing Rock Sioux says the lawmakers’ announcements are premature, but the tribe’s lawyer says they will be prepared for another legal battle if the easement is granted.
On Wednesday, Army Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost said the easement has not yet been approved.
“The assistant secretary for the Army Civil Works will make a decision on the easement once a full review and analysis is completed in accordance with the directive,” Frost said in a statement.
That directive refers to President Donald Trump’s January 24 order, “which directs the acting secretary of the Army to expeditiously review requests for approvals to construct and operate the Dakota Access Pipeline in compliance with the law,” Frost said.