Top Defense Department officials have informed members of Congress that the Army Corps of Engineers has been directed to grant the final easements necessary to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to go forward.
The announcement was made late Tuesday, as the nation was focused on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court — an announcement originally scheduled for Thursday.
“This will enable the company to complete the project, which can and will be built with the necessary safety features to protect the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others downstream,” said North Dakota Republican Senator John Hoeven.
North Dakota Representative Kevin Cramer also praised the decision.
“President Trump has proven to be a man of action and I am grateful for his commitment to this and other critical infrastructure projects so vital to our nation,” Cramer said.
Hoeven also said an increased law enforcement presence was being sent to the site where massive protests have kept the pipeline at bay for months.
“On Sunday, 20 additional Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement officers arrived at Standing Rock to assist local authorities. Also, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council has asked the protesters to leave the campsite on Corps land,” Hoeven said.
Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Impact Study is still ongoing, and public comment is open until February 20.
This story is developing and will be updated with more details and local reactions.