The Army Corps of Engineers revealed on Sunday they will not grant an easement that would have allowed the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe, but the companies behind the project are refusing to back down.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners (SXL) – the companies behind the pipeline – are calling the denial of easement a “political action,” and on Monday, released a public statement, accusing the Army Corps of Engineers of “abandon[ing] the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.”
The companies insist that they will continue construction on the pipeline without rerouting it around Lake Oahe, despite being denied the legal right to do so.
Lake Oahe is a major source of drinking water supply for Native American communities and the surrounding land contains burial grounds and cultural sites, sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux. Should the pipeline continue as planned, it would endanger the drinking water for thousands of people and desecrate sacred land.
The statement went on to say:
“As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”
Both companies have histories of damaging spills. Sunoco Logistics is the worst in the industry, with over 200 leaks since 2010.
While some companies, such as Norway’s largest bank, DNB, have already pulled their assets out of the project, some key figures are still invested. One of these is President-elect Trump, which complicates matters even further.
Donald Trump recently came out in favor of the pipeline being finished, hinting that Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics may just be buying time until Trump is sworn into office in January, when his administration could again greenlight the project.
While the Army Corps of Engineers plans to conduct and release a full Environmental Impact Statement before making a decision on rerouting the pipeline, it does little good if ETP and SXL are allowed to continue playing by their own rules.