MANDAN, N.D. (CBSNews) — The Army Corp of Engineers will not immediately grant the Dakota Access Pipeline the right to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the National Congress of American Indians claimed in a statement on Sunday.
The group has been leading the protests against the controversial pipeline’s plans in the Dakotas.
“Today the Army Corp of Engineers announced its decision not to grant the easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing the Missouri immediately above the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and to study alternate routes,” the statement said.
NCAI President Brian Cladoosby said “our prayers have been answered.”
“This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news,” Cladoosby said in the statement. “All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track. From the start, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked for a full analysis to consider threats to the water and environment, and also the social and cultural impacts. Peace, prayer, and the water protectors have led to the right outcome.”
News about the development first appeared on social media. A video posted on Facebook showed a man identified as Remi Baldeagle saying the secretary of the Army had denied the Dakota Access pipeline easement.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” he said in the video clip.
“Up until this point the American government has failed us, but the American people haven’t, so I feel American today.”
f confirmed, the easement would mark a stunning victory for pipeline protesters, who for weeks have gathered at an encampment in southern North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and others who have joined them wanted changes made to the route of the pipeline, which is largely complete except for a short segment underneath a Missouri River reservoir. They said the pipeline could pollute drinking water and threatens sacred sites.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners previously said it was unwilling to reroute the project.
Earlier on Sunday, tribal elders had asked the military veterans joining the large Dakota Access pipeline protest encampment not to have confrontations with law enforcement officials, an organizer with Veterans Stand for Standing Rock said.
The organizer added that the group was there to help out those who have dug in against the four-state, $3.8 billion project.
Veterans Stand for Standing Rock’s GoFundMe.com page had raised more than $1 million of its $1.2 million goal by Sunday – money that was due to go toward food, transportation and supplies. Cars waiting to get into the camp Sunday afternoon were backed up for more than a half-mile.