The Obama administration will issue a sooner-than-expected decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) before the levers of executive power shift to President-elect Donald Trump.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Friday that President Barack Obama is moving up his decision on a key easement allowing the pipeline’s developers to dig under Lake Ohae to complete the nearly $4 billion project.
Obama momentarily stopped pipeline construction in September, arguing that the government needed more time to determine the project’s environmental impact.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe argue the project’s construction would unnecessarily trample on tribal lands and destroy artifacts, and could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Opposition to the DAPL has a resulted in a rash of riots and violent protests from environmentalists and Standing Rock members.
Protesters torched various bulldozers and earth-moving equipment near the pipeline in October. Officials estimated the fire caused $2,000,000 in damages. The equipment was operated by one of the companies contracted by the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
Still, federal officials refused to evict members of the Standing Rock Sioux that are hunkered down at an anti-pipeline encampment near the nearly 1,200 mile long oil line. Officials believe booting the protesters would harm free speech rights, even though the land is privately owned.
The decision-making process on whether the pipeline could proceed would take weeks, if not months to iron out, Obama told reporters in late October before Trump won the White House.
The brash reality TV star’s victory almost certainly prompted the move to act quickly on the pipeline decision.
Trump, a proponent of building pipelines, dumped nearly $1 million in 2015 into Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline. The massive investment was disclosed in Trump’s financial filing to the Federal Election Commission last year.
The billionaire dumped another $500,000 in Phillips 66, which will have a 25 percent ownership in the project once completed. He also reported making upward of $50,000 in interest, dividends and capital gains from the pipeline.
The real estate tycoon turned president-elect has also floated the idea of reviving the Keystone XL line, a Canadian pipeline cutting through the U.S that was eventually scuttled in 2014 by Obama.
Many of the same environmentalist groups that opposed the Keystone XL pipeline have joined the fight against the DAPL, which would bring 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois.
Chris White is a contributer for the Daily Caller. This content was provided by the Daily Caller News Foundation