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Nebraskan Anti-Pipeline Activists Cautiously Celebrate Dakota Access Pipeline Victory

Nebraskans, well-versed in the struggles that come along with fighting a multi-billion dollar company looking to build an oil pipeline, are cautiously celebrating alongside the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their fellow protesters following the Army Corp of Engineers’ announcement that the Dakota Access Pipeline will not be built along its current proposed path – for now, at least.

Bold Nebraska, one of the organizations that helped support the groups fighting back against the $3.78 billion pipeline that was originally planned to be built underneath Lake Ohae, a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota, is waiting to see what the upcoming Trump administration plans to do with both the Dakota Access Pipeline as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline once they take office in 2017.

President-elect Trump pledged during his campaign that he would push infrastructure projects like these pipelines through, though it’s still unclear just how fast his administration could reverse these decisions blocking their development.

“It's not as easy as he (Trump) says it is on Twitter to approve a pipeline,” commented Jane Kleeb, the founder of Bold Nebraska.

Whether Trump chooses to resume construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline when he takes office or not, he will face opposition from the same sources that stood against their development since 2008.

“We’ll have some challenges obviously, but I think we can stop this thing,” said Art Tanderup, one of the Nebraskan landowners opposing the Keystone XL Pipeline. “We still have to protect the Sandhills. We still have to protect the Ogallala Aquifer. We still have to protect the landowners along the route.”

A key concern of both the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and Nebraskan landowners is the safety of their water supply. The proposed route of both pipelines puts millions of people’s source of drinking water at risk if a spill ever occurs – the Keystone XL Pipeline threatened the Ogallala Aquifer which provides water for two million or so people, and the Dakota Access Pipeline threatened Lake Ohae, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s source of water. In fact, the Dakota Access Pipeline was initially planned to cross the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, North Dakota before being rerouted in order to protect that city’s water supply.

According to Brian Jorde, the attorney for the Nebraskan landowners, TransCanada needs to wait until at least September of 2017 to resume their eminent domain efforts to secure a path for their pipeline since they abandoned those proceedings back in September of 2015. Nebraska state law requires a two year waiting period between abandonment and restarting the process.

The Army Corps of Engineers currently plans to look for alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline that won’t threaten water supplies or sacred ancestral lands, and will conduct an environmental impact study that will include public input. This process could take years.

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