It seems that the US Army Corps of Engineers will green-light the last few miles of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. This is in line with their earlier 1261-page environmental assessment. In response to numerous protests, the Obama administration had overridden the conclusions of that report, and the Trump administration has, as expected, reversed the reversal. It is not clear when construction will begin. Cleanup of garbage from the protest sites is ongoing, in order to avoid environmental problems when the snow melts.
Map from the Army Corps of Engineers report, showing DAPL crossing point at Lake Oahe.
Update: CNN reports that the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) has now issued the final permit. Construction has resumed. Opposition to the pipeline has refocussed on the claim that “The Lakota people believe that the pipeline correlates with a terrible Black Snake prophesied to come into the Lakota homeland and cause destruction. The Lakota believe that the very existence of the Black Snake under their sacred waters in Lake Oahe will unbalance and desecrate the water and render it impossible for the Lakota to use that water in their Inipi ceremony.” This new claim, based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was not addressed in the earlier ACE environmental assessment. However, it is unclear how the potential for spiritual desecration could be assessed (and why the eight existing pipelines under Lake Oahe have not already caused such desecration). The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has said “Please respect our people and do not come to Standing Rock and instead exercise your First Amendment rights and take this fight to your respective state capitols, to your members of Congress, and to Washington, DC.”