With the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump ordered federal agencies, including the Army Corps of Engineers, to “review and approve in an expedited manner” requests for approval to finish construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. This likely signaled an end to months of protesting. Although opponents of the project vowed to continue their resistance, a recently released document from the Army Corps of Engineers shows that the protests face long odds.
In a December 3, 2016 memo, U.S. Army Corps Col. John Henderson outlined the process by which the Corps determined the environmental impact of the pipeline on Lake Oahe. The memo also lays out the legal arguments supporting its approval and construction, specifically countering several of the protesters’ concerns, including water safety and tribal rights. Henderson concludes by recommending that the easement be granted.
“Corps policy is to grant an easement when it is in the public interest,” wrote Henderson. He further explained that granting the easement would not interfere with the operation of the Corps dam near Lake Oahe and that the proposed pipeline met necessary safety requirements.
According to the memo, construction of the pipeline would in fact improve safety, by shifting oil transportation away from truck and rail.