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February 1, 2017

Last night, Acting Secretary of the Army, Robert Speer, signaled that he would grant permission for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to go ahead, even though the required environmental impact study has not been completed.

The news came a week after Donald Trump signed memos giving green lights to both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Only 10 days into his presidency, we’re already getting a clear sign of what to expect from President Trump. He has issued orders targeting immigrants and refugees, continued his bullying and hateful rhetoric towards those who disagree with him, and is targeting news outlets that report stories he disagrees with.

In the case of Standing Rock, he has successfully pushed a federal agency to change its plans – approving a project that he has a financial interest in.

Today’s announcement, combined with news of a bill from Representative Huizenga that will roll-back an anti-corruption law requiring oil and mining companies to publish the payments they make to governments around the world, is a significant setback, and yet another example of the Trump administration bowing to big oil and gas.

Late last year Marie, our Executive Director, joined the water defenders at Standing Rock, taking with her solidarity messages from all around the world. In the coming weeks and months, as the fight against the oil and gas execs and their board members in this administration continues, ActionAid will again stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who have said they will challenge any suspension of the pipeline’s environmental review.

We work to defend land and water rights by supporting local people fighting for their communities all over the world. Private companies – often with the support of governments – frequently fail to tell local communities about plans for projects that will see them lose their land, or secure their consent.

Indigenous communities are particularly at risk, and these are often for large extractive projects like mines or agribusiness plantations that make the companies large sums of money, but force local people off their land and contaminate their environment. At Standing Rock, it’s an oil pipeline that passes through sacred territory, putting the Tribe’s drinking water at risk.

Our partners in those struggles have sent their support to the Standing Rock Protests, because they recognized their own struggles in what is happening at Standing Rock. And that injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere.

Instead of continuing to invest in oil and gas projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline that are releasing large amounts of harmful gases into the earth’s atmosphere, contaminating our environment, and taking people’s land, we need to transition to clean renewable energy sources and cut emissions dramatically. Building billions of dollars in fossil fuel infrastructure takes us in the wrong direction.

In the face of today’s setback, we must remember the lessons learned from last year’s successes, and from land and water defenders all over the world.

Indigenous people’s leadership was crucial to the successful protests last year, as was the outpouring of solidarity from across the country and around the world.

We will stand with Standing Rock. We are strongest when we stand together.