By Daysha Eaton and Antonia Gonzales
The self-proclaimed ‘water protectors’ honked horns, hollered and sang on a highway near the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota Sunday. The celebration came after hearing the news the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied a key easement to run the Dakota Access Pipeline under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Kandi Mossett, with the Indigenous Environmental Network calls the decision a victory. “The mood is one of celebration and happiness and relief because we’ve been fighting for so long,” she said. The Army Corps decision calls for an environmental study and an exploration of alternative routes.
Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network says he’s cautiously optimistic.
“We have to be prepared to see what Energy Transfer Partners does, whether they are going to file a lawsuit,” he said. “If they do that, we are sure because of the timeline schedule it may take the hearing at district court on something like that into the next administration under Donald Trump.”
The pipeline is nearly complete. The 1,000 feet across the river is one of the last remaining obstacles for Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the nearly 1,200-mile oil pipeline. In a written statement late Sunday, Energy Transfer Partners said the decision does not change the company’s plans and they expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting. The company lashed out at the Obama Administration, which they say “abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.” The advocacy group, Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now went further, saying Donald Trump’s inauguration day, January 20th, “can’t come soon enough.”