The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and climate activists have protected Lake Oahe and sacred tribal land.
US Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, released a statement Sunday stating that alternate routes are being sought out for the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Sioux tribe’s reservation is located half a mile south of where the pipeline was going to be laid. This not only caused fear of the pipeline contaminating the tribe’s water supply, but also violated the tribe’s land rights. According to Daily Mail, the construction had already affected a native burial site.
Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stated:
“Today, the US Army Corps of engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternate routes. …The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will forever be grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision.”
Climate activists and tribe members had protested the $3.8 billion dollar plan for months. This past weekend, however, thousands of veterans joined the protestors in forming a human barrier in front of police. The 1,172-mile pipeline’s final piece was the segment planned to lie under Lake Oahe, according to Newsweek. The thousands of protesters broke out in cheers as the news spread on Sunday.
Although, not everyone was happy with this decision. According to CNN, ND Rep. Kevin Cramer stated:
“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road. Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way.”
Many politicians were happy with the win however, including Senator Bernie Sanders as he expressed his approval through multiple tweets. Sanders stated, “I appreciate [President Obama] listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built.”
This even is without a doubt, a huge win for climate activists. The pipeline would potentially have carried 570,000 barrels of oil across four states a day. Understandably, this was a cause for concern for the Sioux tribe occupying that area. Thousands of others felt the same and decided to take a stand against the controversial plan, and the environment is all the better for it.