The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Monday it needs more time to study the Dakota Access pipeline and will seek “additional discussion” with the Standing Rock Sioux nation who has been protesting against the oil facility for the past few months with hundreds of other tribes from across the United States.
The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon that Army Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy sent a letter to company officials and tribal Chairman Dave Archambault saying that "additional discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and analysis are warranted."
In its statement, the Army Corps said that its previous decisions "comported with legal requirements." However, it added that it was "mindful of the history of the Great Sioux Nation's repeated dispossessions, including those to support water-resources projects."
It said its additional analysis and discussion with the tribe will include conditions in an easement for the pipeline crossing that might reduce the risk of spills, along with an assessment of how such a spill could affect the tribe.
The Army Corps had given pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners permission to build the US$3.8 billion pipeline, but in September amid major protests, decided that more analysis was needed after Native Americans said it violated sacred lands and would threaten water resources in the area.
The news came just hours after North Dakota's state capitol in Bismarck was placed on lockdown Monday after more than 500 Dakota Access pipeline protesters tried to gain access to the building.
Officials put the capital in a "soft lockdown," which means all doors were locked and guarded, at 11:30 a.m. local time, Lieutenant Tom Iverson, spokesman for the police, told local media.
There were no arrests or physical altercations, and a few hours later the protesters marched toward the federal courthouse elsewhere in the city, Iverson added.
Meanwhile, several Dakota pipeline water protectors were injured Saturday after they were run over by a construction truck as the driver drove through their gathering, firing gunshots into the air near the construction site of the pipeline according to videos and photos posted online.
Last week, Obama told the online news outlet NowThis that his administration is monitoring the situation closely and that “the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.”
The action against the pipeline has ignited local and international solidarity and attracted more than 300 Native American tribes from across the U.S. in a show of unity that is being called historic.