A spokesman for Donald Trump said Monday that the president-elect is in favor of building the Dakota Access pipeline, and will revisit the Obama administration’s decision to halt construction until it can be routed around land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
The company behind the project had sought an easement to begin construction. But following months of sometimes violent protests, on Sunday the Army Corps of Engineers said it would find another path for the pipeline.
Trump spokesman Jason Miller said the crude oil conduit is ‘something that we support construction of, and we’ll review the full situation once we’re in the White House and make an appropriate determination at that time.’
North Dakota Republican Sen. John Hoeven said Thursday that Trump’s team had assured him that they sided with the pipeline’s supporters.
‘We have met with President-elect Trump’s transition team on a range of issues, including the need for the new president to issue an easement for the project,’ Hoeven said in a Dec. 1 statement.
‘Today, Mr. Trump expressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers.’
The top Republican in Congress criticized the Obama administration on Sunday for the sudden and unexpected decision to deny access for the pipeline to be built near tribal land.
House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted on Sunday that the decision was ‘big-government decision-making at its worst.’
The Wisconsin Republican tweeted Sunday night that he looks ‘forward to putting this anti-energy presidency behind us.’
Rep. Kevin Cramer, also a North Dakota Republican, said that the move was a ‘chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country.’
‘I can’t wait for the adults to be in charge on Jan. 20,’ said Cramer, a supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated as president on that day.
Army Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said Sunday in a statement that ‘[a]lthough we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do.’
‘The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.’
She also added the new routes will be explored using an environmental impact statement, ‘with full public input and analysis’.
The company building the $3.8 billion oil pipeline slammed the Obama administration.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners released a statement Sunday night calling the decision ‘just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.’
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and its supporters have long argued the project would threaten the its Lake Oahe water source and cultural sites.
Thousands of demonstrators at the Oceti Sakowin campsite erupted into cheers and cries of Mni Wiconi – ‘Water is life’ – went up from the crowd as Sunday’s news spread.
Moments after the decision was announced, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council Chairman Harold Frazier told DailyMail.com that he was ‘shocked’ by the news.
The $3.8 billion pipeline running through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, which protesters resisted for several months.
Faith Spotted Eagle, an elder of the Ihanktonwan tribe, said: ‘The easement has been denied. We have all come to this gathering being hosted by Mother Earth. I love you all.’
Shailene Woodley, star of the ‘Divergent’ movies and ‘The Fault in Our Stars’, who had previously been arrested while protesting told a huge crowd: ‘We feel so honored to have been a small part of this movement.’
In a statement, Standing Rock tribal chairman Dave Archambault II said: ‘Today, the US Army Corps of engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.
‘Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternate routes.’
‘The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will forever be grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,’ he added.
But that decision could be short-lived. Trump takes office in just 45 days.