The Dakota Access pipeline company said Wednesday that it will resume construction immediately under Lake Oahe, the segment of the path that had been blocked after months of international protests to protect tribal sacred lands and the drinking water of local residents.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners said it only needs three months to complete that section, nearly finishing up the entire pipeline. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the final easement for construction Tuesday after President Donald Trump overturned an order to halt construction under the reservoir, which is a part of the Missouri River.
Tribes and environmentalists argued that the river provides drinking water for millions and that it is only a matter of time until the pipeline leaks and contaminates the surrounding water and land.
In December, under the watch of former President Barack Obama, the Army Corps had previously stated they would undertake a further environmental review of the project.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is adjacent to the line's route, said last week they will fight the decision, arguing that the Army Corps cannot circumvent a scheduled environmental impact study that was ordered in January.
About 50 protests erupted Wednesday in response to the final easement in what the Standing Rock tribe dubbed a “Last Stand,” in reference to Custer’s Last Stand in the Great Sioux War of 1876. Several were arrested.
The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to divest US$3 billion in city funds from Wells Fargo bank, one of the major funders of the Dakota Access pipeline by a vote of 9-0.