The Biden administration on Friday released a new report related to whether a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline would be canceled — but did not indicate it had come to a decision.
In 2020, a court ordered the administration to review the environmental impacts for a portion of the pipeline that crosses the Missouri River’s Lake Oahe.
On Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) released a draft report laying out the possible options — revoking the permit, keeping it in place as is or adding additional stipulations to it. But it did not single out an option as its “preferred” choice.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is an approximately 1,200-mile pipeline that sends oil produced in North Dakota to Illinois.
The Standing Rock Sioux have opposed the pipeline, raising concerns about the impacts of a potential spill on their water supply. Former President Trump approved the pipeline, and it began operating in 2017.
The report also outlined the environmental impacts of keeping the pipeline running or revoking the permit that allowed it to cross the river.
The report highlighted several impacts that could happen to local water and wildlife should an oil spill occur, but it also called the possibility of such a spill “remote to very unlikely.”
However, the agency noted that should a spill occur, it could have long-term, major impacts on groundwater and wildlife, as well as community health.
Responding to the report, tribe chairwoman Janet Alkire released a written statement saying it should be invalidated.
“We’re furious that the Army Corps has addressed none of our major concerns during the review process,” Alkire said.
“The pipeline is an imminent threat to the Missouri River, sensitive habitat and sacred burial sites along the riverbank,” she continued. “The oil company’s emergency response plans are inadequate, its safety track record is horrendous, and there’s been a stunning lack of transparency with Standing Rock throughout the environmental review process, including inaccurate characterizations of tribal consultation.”
Environmentalists expressed similar sentiments.
“The worse the potential outcome is, the more it should be prevented,” Jennifer Sass, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told The Hill. “The threat to the water supply is very, very serious.”
The report received a somewhat positive reception from Republicans, like Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).
“I fundamentally disagree with the need for an Environmental Impact Statement especially after the pipeline has been safely operational for several years,” Cramer said. “Nonetheless, I am grateful this Draft Environmental Impact Statement was finally released.”