Administration denies green light coming for Dakota Access
The expected move is raising concerns among some Dakota Access opponents that nationwide protests planned for Tuesday could turn uncivil. | Getty
The Obama administration said Friday that no decision has been made on the disputed easement for the Dakota Access pipeline, tamping down expectations that the project could see a green light as soon as Monday.
"The process is ongoing and no decisions have been made," an administration official said. Sources familiar with the process said earlier Friday that a go-ahead for the $3.7 billion project was expected as soon as Monday, raising concerns about nationwide protests planned against the project on Tuesday.
An Army Corps of Engineers spokeswoman said late Thursday that "an announcement will come in the next few days" on the project, which the administration first put on hold in September following protests by tribal and green groups. It remains unclear whether any announcement would technically clear the way for completion of Dakota Access ahead of the arrival in office of pro-pipeline President-elect Donald Trump.
Trump's upset victory this week likely sets the stage for the $3.7 billion oil pipeline's eventual approval, no matter what the outgoing administration decides.
Work on the pipeline has been stalled at a disputed Missouri River crossing near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, where protesters have been camped out for months in one of the largest ongoing environmental standoffs of recent years.
The company behind the pipeline said in a statement Friday that it has "repeatedly" told the Army Corps it would pause work at the site disputed by the Sioux for “a reasonable time period,” so long as it receives assurances it would be able to finish the four-state oil pipeline. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners holds a majority interest in the project.
"As a practical matter, pipeline construction in the state of North Dakota is complete except for the crossing beneath the Missouri River at Lake Oahe," Dakota Access LLC stated.
"We now wish to reiterate — publicly — that Dakota Access shares the safety concerns of the Corps and is prepared to suspend activities at the site if Dakota Access and the Corps can agree upon a date certain upon which we can complete construction" at the disputed site, the company added.