The Obama Administration hands out the red card to yet another controversial pipeline project

Police use a water cannon to put out a fire started by protesters during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S.

Police fire a water cannon towards protesters who protested against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Photo credit:  Reuters / Stephanie Keith.

By Anders Lorenzen

In the midst of increased violence, the latest US environmental and social justice battle, the Dakota Access Pipeline, will not go ahead. On Sunday evening last week the US turned down the controversial pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers has said that they will not grant permission for the pipeline. In recent months the battle over the controversial project has been heating up, as the local police increased their violence against protesters who are a mixture of indigenous groups and environmentalists. The indigenous groups were angry that the project would cross their land without their having been given a say. Their particular concern was the effect on access to clean drinking water as the project would have seen a pipeline being drilled underneath the Missouri river.

The protesters had turned out in sub-zero temperatures, but the local police had responded by using water cannons against them, despite the protests having been peaceful. This even prompted the human rights organisation Amnesty International to get involved, protesting that human rights abuses had been committed.

As President-Elect Donald Trump has said he endorses the pipeline project, there had been increasing pressure on current President Barack Obama to intervene. At the weekend he did just that to the delight of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama administration for this historic decision,” their chairman, Dave Archambault, said.

The US environmental movement could be entering an even busier period. Controversial fossil fuel projects which they thought they had won, could now be in question again once Trump takes office in January.  One such project could be Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama rejected last year, but Trump has pledged that he would approve the project. Also, protesters will be keen to stress that the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline is not yet over, as the company behind the project Energy Transfer Partners would likely appeal the decision. The pipeline would have stretched a distance of 1172 miles and would transport 470,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois. Though the construction of the pipeline is nearly completed ,the Standing Rock Sioux reservation area was one of the last remaining hurdles. So even though the decision is upheld ,it is likely the company will seek to re-route the project.

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