CANNON BALL, N.D. — The secretary of the Army Corps of Engineers told Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II Sunday that the current route for the controversial Dakota Access pipeline will be denied.
"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 for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy said in a statement Sunday evening. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."
As word spread through the protest camp in Cannon Ball, N.D., cheers could be heard breaking out.
Federal government officials had given activists, which include Native American tribe members and non-members alike, a Monday deadline to vacate the camp because of worries about the plunging temperatures.
The planned route for the 1,172-mile Dakota Access oil pipeline would have run within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and crossed beneath the Missouri River.
Opponents had said the pipeline would adversely impact drinking water and disturb sacred tribal sites.
The Obama administration had on multiple occasions asked that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, voluntarily stop construction. But the installation of hyper-beam lights there last month shows that request has been ignored.
Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren, who remained publicly silent on the pipeline for months as protests forced a halt in the pipeline's construction, told NBC News in an interview in November that he was "100 percent sure that the pipeline will be approved by a Trump administration," regardless of what the Army Corps ultimately decides.
Former presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., released a statement saying, "I appreciate very much President Obama listening to the Native American people and millions of others who believe this pipeline should not be built."