Indigenous activists protest outside a Seattle Wells Fargo over the banks loan to builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Indigenous activists protested outside a Seattle Wells Fargo over the bank's loan to builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Ana Sofia Knauf

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The Army Corps of Engineers has been instructed by Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer to reverse its former denial of an easement allowing builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline to drill under the Missouri River, North Dakota's Senator John Hoeven said in a statement issued today.

In early December, while Obama was still president, the Army announced that it would not approve the easement for drilling under Lake Oahe, a man-made reservoir on the Missouri River. Instead, the Army indicated that it would explore alternate routes for the pipeline through the lengthy public process of creating an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

On January 18, the Army filed a "notice of intent" in the Federal Register to prepare the EIS—the first step in the EIS process. Less than a week later, biohazard waste container Donald Trump signed a memo directing the Secretary of the Army to instruct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite review and approval of the pipeline.

Shortly after Hoeven's statement, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued a press release announcing that they would challenge any interruption of the EIS process. The Tribe said that they had not received any notice that the EIS had been suspended or withdrawn.

The statement continued: "To abandon the EIS would amount to a wholly unexplained and arbitrary change based on the President’s personal views and, potentially, personal investments."

An Army public information officer was not immediately available for comment. (Neither was a spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.)

Tomorrow, the Seattle City Council will discuss an ordinance that takes a step toward severing the city's ties with Wells Fargo on the basis of the bank's $467 million loans to builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its recent scandal involving the creation of two million unauthorized accounts.

Matt Remle, a local activist, educator, and member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, helped draft the legislation. When reached by phone, he said hoped the news about the easement would underscore the importance of moving forward with divestment ordinances in Seattle and other cities.

"I would hope that a similar outrage can be brought out that we've seen with this idiot's other executive actions, leading to mass occupations or mobilizations," Remle added. "This is not acceptable. And that's just this pipeline. That doesn't even include what he's going to do with Keystone."

Update: LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, the founder of Sacred Stone Camp (and Remle's aunt), has put out a call asking the public to stand with her.

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