(WASHINGTON) -- The Army Corps of Engineers told Congress it intends to grant an easement to allow for the completion of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), according to a statement from the Army.
The pipeline has become a focal point of protests against the final stage of the project, which is opposed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, stemming from fears of damage to Lake Oahe, next to their reservation.
"Today's announcement will allow for the final step, which is granting of the easement," said Robert Speer, acting Secretary of the Army. "Once that it done, we will have completed all the tasks in the Presidential Memorandum of January 24, 2017."
Speer said the decision was made based on a sufficient amount of information already available which supported approval to grant the easement request and as a result, made the choice to terminate the notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement.
Representative Peter Cramer, R-North Dakota, said in a statement that the Corps of Engineers has approved the Notice of Intent to Congress to grant the easement for the Dakota Access Pipelineand that the easement is expected to be issued tomorrow.
Last November, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would conduct an Environmental Impact Study to address potential concerns about the last mile and half of the 1,100 mile pipeline that would go underneath Lake Oahe.
President Trump signed a memo on Jan. 24 that instructed the Secretary of the Army to expedite approval of the pipeline. The Army announced last week it was proceeding accordingly with its review of the easement.
The easement will allow the completion of the last mile and a half of the pipeline under Lake Oahe. The 1,100 mile DAPL connects oil production areas in North Dakota with a crude oil terminal near Patoka, Illinois.
In a statement, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota, said: "Today’s announcement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brings this issue one step closer to final resolution – and delivers the certainty and clarity I’ve been demanding.”
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