On Sunday good news finally came. After what seemed like an endless 2016 of heartache and devastation, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that an alternative route would be explored for the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, that has drawn thousands of protestors to the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota to support the tribe's claim that it would threaten their water supply and damage grounds sacred to the group. Many around the country celebrated, but was that too soon? Could Donald Trump reverse the DAPL decision and allow the pipeline to cross the Missouri River at the original location?
That would explain why many of the protestors are not closing camp — despite the bitter cold weather and the Army Corps of Engineers decision, The New York Times reported. The announcement about the pipeline reroute came from Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army's assistant secretary for civil works. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing," she said in a statement. That sounds like an independent, final word on the matter, but that's not really the case. Her position is a political appointment; she was chosen by Obama back in 2009, and she will be replaced when Trump takes office on Inauguration Day 2017.
So while Trump would not himself give the go ahead for construction, he would appoint the people who could. Some are already preparing for the very real possibility that the coming Trump Administration could try to undo the decision and go forward with crossing through Sioux land. Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice staff attorney that's representing the Standing Rock Tribe told CNN they would fight any reversal in court:
If the incoming administration tries to undo this and jam the pipeline through despite the need for an analysis of alternatives, we will certainly be prepared to challenge that in court. It's not so simple for one government administration to simply reverse the decisions of the former one.
But it's hard to imagine that the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to grant an easement to build — or not as it currently stands — would be under the court's purview. So if Trump gets to appoint the person in charge, it wouldn't bode well.
There's a very obvious reason why Trump would want the pipeline to move forward: he owns stock in the company building it. On top of that he also owns stock in oil companies that will be able to send oil down the pipeline once it is built, the Associated Press reported. The conflict of interest is just one of many that will complicate his presidency — and in this case, it could undermine one of the most successful peaceful protests in recent years.