Dec. 5, 2016 1:00 p.m. ET
A day after the Obama administration put the brakes on a Midwest oil pipeline by denying a permit needed to finish the route, a spokesman for President-elect Donald Trump said the incoming administration supports completing the project.
“With regard to the Dakota Access Pipeline, that’s something that we support construction of and we’ll review the full situation when we’re in the White House and make the appropriate determination at that time,” said Jason Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Trump.
On Sunday, celebrations at a protest camp in North Dakota among pipeline opponents led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe erupted after the Department of the Army said it wouldn’t grant an easement required by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP to cross beneath a Missouri River reservoir, the final 1,100-foot link yet to be built in the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline.
The Army statement said that alternate routes would be considered and a fuller environmental study of the project should be conducted.
The statement Monday by the Trump transition team, however, cast doubt on whether that decision would hold any sway after the new administration takes over in January.
Pipeline experts said that Mr. Trump would have several options once he takes office to enable the $3.8 billion pipeline to proceed. That could include directing the Secretary of the Army to reinstate a previous permit for the reservoir crossing, or issuing an executive order approving the pipeline.
Dave Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, has asked the Trump administration to respect the Obama administration decision. Meanwhile, he said that protesters should now go home and avoid the harsh winter conditions in North Dakota.
“With this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones,” Mr. Archambault said.
The pipeline would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota, across parts of South Dakota and Iowa before reaching a terminal in Illinois. Its current route passes within about a half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, and the tribe has argued that a pipeline spill could endanger the tribe’s water supply.
Energy Transfer said the pipeline can move crude oil with fewer risks than oil trains that currently carry oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and that cross the Missouri River. The company has said it has nearly completed the entire route, but is waiting for an easement to allow it to cross the Missouri River reservoir, Lake Oahe.