Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at the National Congress of American Indians winter session in Washington, D.C., on February 15, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Army Department formally cancels review of Dakota Access Pipeline

Indian Country knew it was coming but now it's official -- the review of the Dakota Access Pipeline has been canceled.

A notice being published in the Federal Register on Friday announces the termination of an environmental impact statement, or EIS, for the final portion of the controversial project. The reason given was a simple one: orders came from President Donald Trump.

"In light of the President’s memorandum to the Secretary of the Army dated January 24, 2017, published in the Federal Register on January 30, 2017, this notice advises the public that the Department of the Army, as lead agency, effective immediately, no longer intends to prepare an environmental impact statement in connection with the Dakota Access, LLC’s request to grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe, which is on the Missouri River and owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers," the forthcoming document states.

The cancellation marks another slight to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose leaders celebrated in December when the Obama administration said it was going to take another look at the pipeline crossing near the reservation in North Dakota. The EIS was to include a consideration of treaty rights, sacred sites, water resources and other concerns.

"That's the one question the Corps of Engineers could not answer," Chairman Dave Archambault II said at the winter session of the National Congress of American Indians in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. "What is that going to do to us? How's it going to impact our heritage, our culture, our language, our children?"

"What is that going to do?" he said of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "They couldn't answer."

A notice being published in the Federal Register on February 17, 2017, announces the termination of an environmental impact statement for the final portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Trump administration, however, has taken a completely different view. An Army Corps memorandum ordered in the wake of the president's directive concluded that an environmental assessment completed last summer was legally and technically sufficient even if the tribe doesn't feel the same way.

Based on an environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact from July 2016, "we have concluded that the Corps’ Omaha District adequately considered and disclosed the environmental, cultural and other potential impacts of its actions and that its decisions were not arbitrary or capricious," the analysis states.

"We have also concluded that supplementation of the EA to address any new information is not legally required at this time," the February 3 memo continued.

Standing Rock leaders aren't giving up though. They filed new court papers on Tuesday seeking to set aside the approval of the final portion of the pipeline in hopes of preventing oil from flowing through their treaty lands.

"We don't feel like this fight is over," Archambault said on Tuesday. The Trump administration approved the pipeline last week while the chairman was on his way to a meeting at the White House.

In addition to fighting in court, Archambault is hoping to re-energize public support for the #NoDAPL movement, which quickly spread across Indian Country and around the world last summer. The tribe is organizing a march on Washington on March 10 to let everyone know indigenous people are still here.

"This whole movement is something that's been beautiful," he told NCAI. "I can't describe it."

Forthcoming Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Termination of the Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s Request for an Easement to Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (To Be Published February 17, 2017)

Original Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (January 18, 2017)

Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Documents:
Department of Justice Notice | Department of the Army Approval Memorandum | Notice of Termination of EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline | Easement Letter to Congressional Leadership

White House Documents:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Press Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Energy and Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)

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