Dakota Access Pipeline

The Dakota Access Pipeline is being built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. It will transport over 500,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois daily, connecting North Dakota's Bakken Shale oil wells to consumer markets. It was proposed in 2014 with planned completion in 2016. The US Army Corps of Engineers initially evaluated a pipeline route north of Bismarck, North Dakota, but concluded it was not a viable option because of proximity to wellhead source water protection areas that supply municipal water wells among other reasons. The current route takes the pipeline under the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribal reservation in the central part of North and South Dakota, and through a sacred burial ground.

Opponents of the pipeline responded with protests and litigation. Thousands from across the country joined the protests as media coverage spread and celebrities joined the efforts. On September 9, 2016, moments after a federal judge rejected efforts by the Standing Rock Sioux to block construction, the federal government temporarily blocked construction of the pipeline to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers time to evaluate the tribe's concerns. On Dec. 4, 2016, the Army Corp of Engineers denied the permit necessary for the key section of the pipeline. In their statement the Corp indicated they will issue an Environmental Impact Statement. 

On Jan. 24, 2017, Trump signed a presidential memorandum ordering the Corp to expedite and approve requests for easements, to reconsider the December 4 memorandum, and to consider withdrawing their Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. 

Timeline


Analysis

Given Trump's known conflicts of interest and investments in both Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66 (who will retain a 25% stake in the operation of the pipeline upon completion), the decision to press the Army Corp of Engineers to reverse their decision is not a surprise.