The Army has approved the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday, just weeks after President Trump signed an executive order expediting the review of the pipeline, as part of his administration’s goal of supporting fossil fuel development. The project would carry 470,000 barrels of oil a day potentially damaging Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water supply and more.
Robert Speer, the acting secretary of the Army, announced the decision to Congress, saying he was ready to offer the pipeline’s owner a 30-year easement on a disputed patch of land.
The announcement by Speer will allow for the completion of the last mile and a half of the 1,172-mile project, connecting oil production areas in North Dakota to a crude oil terminal near Patoka, Ill. The pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners.
The decision prompted an immediate outcry from people within the protest camp, which now numbers about 400 people, according to Manape LaMere, a leader living by the route since October.
The decision comes two months after the Army told the Obama administration and in the protesters, that it would explore alternative routes for the pipeline.
In a statement, North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum approved the Army’s decision. “This is a key step toward the completion of this important infrastructure project, which has faced months of politically driven delays and will allow for safe transport of North Dakota product to market.”
“All of our hearts are broken,” said Linda Black Elk, a member of the protest’s healer council, in an emotional video from the camp. “I’m just going to ask you guys to keep us all in your prayers. Pray for the water. Pray for the people. Pray for the water protectors. Pray for the tribe.”