Demonstrators opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline gathered outside the White House on Wednesday evening. Here are the facts.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for building the pipeline, said in a statement late Wednesday that with the easement, "Dakota Access now has received all federal authorizations necessary to proceed expeditiously to complete construction of the pipeline". It is entirely underground and surpasses federal safety requirements.
The United States is obligated under global law to respect the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all other Indigenous Peoples.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is entirely underground and will cross under Lake Oahe at a minimum depth of 95 feet below the riverbed.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation sits less than a mile from the pipeline, sued the US Army Corps of Engineers back in July, seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the construction, partially due to the disruption of a sacred burial site by bulldozers working for the Dakota Access line. But the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has promised to challenge it in court.
Members of the Indigenous Environmental Network and Standing Rock Sioux are calling for protests nationwide. They have provoked multiple unsafe and criminal confrontations with law enforcement, and caused significant damage to property, which have led local agencies to ask for extra federal help.
The easement, which was granted in July but withdrawn in December by the Obama administration, would allow Energy Transfer Partners to finish the $3.8 billion project's last 1,100-foot segment under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Before Trump was sworn in, the United States army corps of engineers was on track to conduct a full environmental impact study (EIS) of the project, which the tribe has long sought. The tribe says a pipeline leak could contaminate its drinking water.
"The Trump Administration has decided that profits for the corporate elite are more important than sovereign rights of Indigenous communities, clean water, the climate, and the voices of millions of people worldwide who have called for a halt on the Dakota Access Pipeline", said Mary Sweeters, a US climate campaigner for Greenpeace. Seeming to ignore the concerns of Native American groups and environmentalist, Trump stressed that the project would create "a lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs". Large protest camps popped up near the site, leading to several violent clashes and some 600 arrests.
According to court filings obtained by NBC News, the Army Corps of Engineers intends to waive a two-week congressional notification period, which could allow construction on the pipeline to resume immediately.
Foes of the pipeline held a half-dozen demonstrations Wednesday, including one in front of the White House, in order to protest the easement's approval.
He also eased progress for TransCanada to push ahead with its controversial project, the $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline which would run 1,200 miles across six states, shifting petroleum from Canada to the Gulf Coast. "You know, I approved them and I haven't even heard one call from anybody saying, 'Oh, that was a bad thing you did, '" Mr. Trump said in the [U.K.] Independent.