The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday delivered a symbolic victory to the environmental left by denying a permit to complete the 1,200-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline. The political obstruction illustrates why it’s so hard to build anything in America these days.
Construction is almost complete on the Dakota Access, which aims to transport a half million barrels of oil each day from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota to Illinois for delivery to refiners on the East and Gulf coasts. About 99% of the pipeline doesn’t require federal permitting because it traverses private lands. But the Corps must sign off on an easement to drill under Lake Oahe that dams the Missouri River.
After an exhaustive consultation with Native American tribes, the Corps in July issued an environmental assessment of “no significant impact.” Construction is unlikely to harm tribal totems because the Dakota Access would parallel an existing gas pipeline. The route has been modified 140 times in North Dakota to avoid upsetting sacred cultural resources.