This past Sunday, protestors in Standing Rock near Cannon Ball, North Dakota celebrated the news that the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will be rerouted after months of ongoing protests.
The Army Corp of Engineers announced Sunday evening that it will look for an alternative route for the pipeline, news that members of the Sioux Tribe and their supporters have longed to hear.
“People have said that this is a make it or a break it, and I guess we made it,” Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, announced to a cheering crowd of protesters.
Whether this is a permanent victory remains to be seen, as the incoming Trump administration could reverse the decision.
“We are asking our supporters to keep up the pressure, because while President Obama has granted us a victory today, that victory isn’t guaranteed in the next administration,” Dallas Goldtooth, lead organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, said in a statement. “More threats are likely in the year to come, and we cannot stop until this pipeline is completely and utterly defeated, and our water and climate are safe.”
Even in the hour of their victory, opponents of the pipeline are still prepared to continue the fight. The decision to reroute the pipeline could be very useful in court should that become necessary says Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice staff attorney representing the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
“If the incoming administration tries to undo this and jam the pipeline through despite the need for an analysis of alternatives, we will certainly be prepared to challenge that in court,” he said.
Supporters of the pipeline project have expressed their discontent, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who tweeted about the decision, “big-government decision-making at its worst. I look forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us.”
Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, the corporations responsible for the project have said that they, “fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe.” Past court decisions had already greenlit the project and, “Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way,” they said in a statement.