President-elect Trump is poised to reverse Sunday's decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.
The Trump administration is set to take up the Army's decision on the $3.8 billion oil pipeline, a Trump spokesman said Monday amid industry and business groups' calls to reverse the eleventh-hour decision.
The Dakota Access pipeline is "something we support construction of," said Trump spokesman Jason Miller, adding that the incoming administration "will review the full situation in the White House and make an appropriate determination at that time."
The Army Corps ordered the company building the project, Energy Transfer Partners, to cease all work on a portion of the project near Lake Oahe, which the Sioux had been protesting over claims the pipeline would endanger its drinking water supply.
The oil industry's lead trade group, along with the Chamber of Commerce and others, vowed to begin lobbying the Trump administration to review the action and reverse the Army Corps' decision as soon as possible.
"Moving forward, I am hopeful President-elect Trump will reject the Obama administration's shameful actions to deny this vital energy project, restore the rule of law in the regulatory process, and make this project's approval a top priority as he takes office in January," said Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and natural gas industry's top lobbying group.
The Army Corps had delayed granting an easement for the last few hundred feet of the project near Lake Oahe, despite the project having gone through the proper environmental siting process and being 80 percent complete. The Sioux had fought the project in two federal courts, where judges denied their claims and said the project should move forward. The 1,172-mile pipeline would carry almost 500,000 barrels a day from the Bakken shale oil region in North Dakota to Illinois.
"The Dakota Access Pipeline went through an open, transparent and established permitting process that was upheld twice by the courts, making this decision even more baffling," Gerard said. "In just over one month, a new president and new administration can stand up for American consumers and American workers by approving this critical project. Following the rule of law in the regulatory process is critical for this and other infrastructure projects including roads, bridges and electricity transmission lines."
Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the Chamber's Institute for 21st Century Energy, said the decision was based on the number of celebrities that endorsed the protests against the project, rather than on sound policy.
"The Obama administration sent a clear message: If your special interest-funded protest is loud enough and has enough celebrities tweeting their support, then the rule of law and the facts no longer matter," she said.
"By capitulating to protesters, the Obama administration is putting an exclamation point on its eight-year record of anti-growth energy policies," she said. "We are considering all potential remedies and look forward to the rule of law being re-established as soon as possible."
The Obama administration appears to be downplaying the industry's concerns, saying policy certainty has not eroded with the decision, according to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who was one of the first high-level Cabinet officials to address the Army's decision on Monday.
"I don't think this is a policy signal," she said. "I think this is just a signal that issues have been raised that are of great concern to many people, and it's appropriate that we use the current system to make sure that we're looking at all environmental impacts."
The Army Corps decision "should not send a signal that that type of concern is applicable to a broad range of infrastructure decisions that are going to be made across this country to meet our energy needs," she added. "Nobody is asking for us to sacrifice our ability to maintain a reliable and cost-effective energy supply for the United States."
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Monday said Obama "has not been dictating the outcome" of the Army Corps decision to not grant the easement and instead do an environmental impact statement on alternative routes.
EPA is not the lead agency in overseeing the project, which falls on the Army Corps and the Interior Department. McCarthy has visited the site near the Standing Rock reservation as protests there were continuing.
The decision on Sunday came as 2,000 veterans descended on the protest encampment to defend anti-pipeline activists from police in the dispute. A coalition of veterans said police were assaulting the protesters using military tactics and weapons. Clashes between local law enforcement and protesters had become increasingly violent in recent weeks.