US controversial North Dakota oil pipeline project halted

Washington, Dec 6 (IANS) The US Army Corps of Engineers have decided to halt an underwater pipeline project in North Dakota that environmentalists warn may damage local water quality.

The decision was made after a long-standing protest prevented the Dakota Access Pipeline, set to channel oil through Lake Oahe, from construction, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” the Army’s Assistant Secretary of Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said on Sunday.

The decision to postpone further construction means that President-elect Donald Trump would need to address the issue soon after taking office.

A Trump spokesman said on Monday “That’s something we support construction of, and will review the full situation in the White House and make an appropriate determination at that time.”

The project has ignited a debate among many groups whether the benefit brought by the project can outweigh its risks.

The environmental conservation community has largely refuted the pipeline, saying soil and water contamination and air pollution may damage the environment and wildlife along the pipeline route, a concern shared by many farmers in the region.

The fact that the Lake Oahe is located in Indian reserve land also prompted the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to object, saying the project threatens the tribe’s “way of life, water, people and land”.

The controversial project is an approximately 1,900 km pipeline that connects the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota and Patoka Illinois, the $3.78 billion project was planned to function by January 1, 2017, nearly 90 per cent is reported to have been completed.