The operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline said this week that it remains committed to completing a section of the project that would run near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, despite the US government’s decision to pursue alternative routes. In a sharply worded statement released early Monday, Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners criticized what it described as a “political” decision from the Army Corps of Engineers, suggesting that it will seek to complete the original route once President Obama leaves office.
“The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency,” the statement reads.
The decision to halt construction on the contentious section of the Dakota Access Pipeline was welcomed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental activists who have been protesting the project for months. The Sioux and other Native American groups have opposed construction of the pipeline under a part of the Missouri River known as Lake Oahe, amid concerns that it would contaminate drinking water and run through sacred burial grounds.
The Army Corps last month delayed a decision that would have allowed Energy Transfer Partners to access and drill under the reservoir, saying that additional study was needed to determine its environmental impact. Sunday’s decision brings construction to a halt and calls for environmental impact studies of alternative routes, though President-elect Donald Trump could seek to complete the original route when he takes office.
Trump, who owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners, has said he supports completing the project, though his transition team has insisted that his support has nothing to do with his personal investment. It appears Energy Transfer Partners is pinning its hopes on a more favorable position from the incoming administration.
“As stated all along, [Energy Transfer Partners] and [Sunoco Logistics Partners] are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe,” the companies said. “Nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”