WASHINGTON — Approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline easement to cross Lake Oahe is “imminent,” members of North Dakota’s Congressional delegation said Tuesday, Jan. 31.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer informed him Tuesday he has directed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the easement needed to complete the pipeline. Hoeven released the statement after meeting with Speer and Vice President Mike Pence.
Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said the easement is expected within days.
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., also issued a statement late Tuesday saying he was informed the easement would be granted and “Congressional notification is imminent.”
“It’s time to get to work and finish this important piece of energy infrastructure enhancing America’s energy security and putting North Dakotans and Americans back to work,” Cramer said.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said late Tuesday it will “vigorously” pursue legal action to ensure the environmental review is followed.
“We stand ready to fight this battle against corporate interest superseding government procedure and the health and wellbeing of millions of Americans,” tribal leaders said in statement.
President Donald Trump signed a memorandum last week directing the advancement of the Dakota Access Pipeline. His order directed federal agencies to expedite reviews and approve the 1,172-mile pipeline that is more than 90 percent complete.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II wrote a letter to Trump last week urging him to allow the environmental review ordered under the Obama administration to proceed. An environmental impact statement of the pipeline crossing and its impact to the tribe is underway, with a comment period scheduled to close Feb. 20.
“This change in course is arbitrary and without justification; the law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the President’s whim,” Archambault wrote in the letter to Trump.
An attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has said that if the Corps issues an easement for the pipeline crossing, the tribe will challenge it in court.
Meanwhile, members of the delegation have also continued working to secure additional federal law enforcement resources to support state and local law enforcement responding to protest activities.
“We also know that with tensions high, our families, workers, and tribal communities deserve the protective resources they need to stay safe,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.
Last Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local officers.