According to MSNBC, the Secretary of the Army Corps of Engineers has told Standing Rock Sioux tribal leader David Archambault II that it will deny the easement that would allow an oil pipeline to follow its currently planned route under the Missouri River.
The Corps of Engineers will now conduct an environmental impact study to determine an alternate route for the pipeline.
The decision marks a dramatic victory for thousands of activists who have gathered to physically block the completion of the pipeline, which they say threatens drinking water on tribal lands, and constituted a violation of tribal sovereignty. The pipeline was originally planned to run through Bismarck, North Dakota. That option was rejected by the Army Corps in part because of threats to drinking water.
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Despite harsh winter weather, the protest camp has continued to grow, with thousands of veterans arriving to reinforce the camp last week. Clashes with police had turned violent in recent days, with law enforcement turning water hoses on protesters in below-freezing temperatures.
According to Reuters, North Dakota congressman Kevin Cramer responded to the Corps’ decision as one that “sends a very chilling signal” to anyone involved in U.S. infrastructure projects.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a project of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners.