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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls a halt to construction on Dakota Access Pipeline

After months of camping out, more than 500 arrests, and harsh encounters with law enforcement, tribes celebrate 

By Joaqlin Estus

Sunday thousands of people celebrated at camps in North Dakota, calling a decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction of an oil pipeline a victory. In a prepared statement, the Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Corps said more discussion and analysis are needed.

Energy Transfer Partners, and Dakota Access, LLC had planned for the pipeline to go under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Protestors, who call themselves water protectors, are concerned about the risk of an oil spill polluting the tribe’s drinking water, and about damage to sacred sites.

The Corps gave several reasons for its decision. Those include the history of the taking of the lands of the Great Sioux Nation, the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Native American tribes, and laws on easements through government property.

The Corps invited the Standing Rock Sioux to talks about rerouting the pipeline and development of  stipulations that could reduce the risk of an oil spill.

Last week the Corps said it is closing public access today [Dec. 5] to some of the federal lands where the camps are located, but would not forcibly remove people. The Corps said that decision is due to safety concerns in an area without adequate emergency, fire, medical and law enforcement. The Corps also stated it supports American rights to assembly and free speech, and the principles of nonviolence.