After the acting Secretary of the Army Corp of Engineers, Robert Speer, announced on Tuesday that he would move toward granting the permit for the completion of the US$3 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, key leaders of the Indigenous resistance to the project issued a statement saying they will "resist this brazen power grab."
"We are disgusted but not surprised by the Secretary of the Army’s decision to recommend the easement on the Dakota Access Pipeline," the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a statement issued Tuesday. "Instead of following proper legal procedure and completing the Environmental Impact Study, the Army has chosen to escalate an already tense situation, go against their own processes, and potentially put people in harm's way."
In December, the outgoing Obama administration had ordered a halt to the construction of the massive pipeline project until the Army Corps of Engineers could complete a full environmental assessment.
In one of his first acts in office, President Trump ordered the acceleration of the project over the objection of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who say the pipeline violates their treaty rights and threatens the drinking water of thousands of residents in North Dakota.
The statement suggested that while Speer’s order does not constitute the actual granting of the easement necessary to continue construction, it does suggest the federal agency will ignore the environmental impact study and allow for construction to begin as early as this week.
The Indigenous Environmental Network — a grassroots network dedicated to capacity building in Indigenous communities around environmental and economic justice issues — has played a key role in organizing the Oceti Sakowin Water Protector camp set up last April to block construction of the project.
The group connected Trump’s push for the pipeline project to his recent attacks on immigrants and women.
"We know the Trump Administration stands to gain from this project — the president of (the) United States is an investor himself — and their actions reveal a blatant disregard for the rule of law and a clear interest in lining their own pockets. This decision follows Trump’s unfortunate attacks on immigrants, women, and the press. Now he is working even harder to attack sovereign tribal nations and historic treaties," said the statement.
The group further echoed statements earlier from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that resistance to the project would continue."Trump and his climate denying cabinet are clearly doing what is best for their businesses and are willing to put profit before human rights and the environment,” concluded the statement. “But make no mistake: we are prepared to mobilize and resist this brazen power grab."