The Obama administration announced Monday that it will not be granting a key easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline to move forward, according to the Army Corps of Engineers that halted the project in September despite a federal judge ruling that it could move ahead.

The pipeline in North Dakota has become the target of widespread opposition by environmental activists and other groups since September when the Army Corps and the Justice and Interior departments halted the project.

The Army Corps of Engineers decided it has insufficient information to approve the pipeline at this time and is initiating a fact-finding campaign. It had initiated a review Sept. 9 after an Indian tribe raised concerns over the project’s impact on its water supply.

“The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property,” the Army Corps said in a statement.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe claimed the pipeline’s route would harm its only source of drinking water by going under Lake Oahe, while the construction that has already occurred has resulted in the desecration of sacred sites.

The tribe has had its concerns reviewed by two separate federal courts that determined the Army Corps’ initial permit approval process was thorough and adequately reviewed environmental impacts.

The administration, however, stepped in to halt the project pending a new review by the Army Corps of Engineers of a relatively short easement that must be approved for the 1,200-mile pipeline to begin shipping oil from North Dakota.

Pipeline supporters argue that by placing a hold on the project, the administration is interfering with the law and years of precedent defining the federal pipeline review process.

“The Army invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies,” Monday’s statement read.

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“The Army invites discussion of the risk of a spill in light of such conditions, and whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location,” it added.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, the Democratic ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, praised the action as “vindication” for all who have opposed the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

“The Army Corps is right to continue consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux, and everyone who pushed against rubber-stamping this pipeline should feel a very real measure of success and vindication today,” said Grijalva, who is key opponent of the project on Capitol Hill.

Grijalva said the current situation has escalated to ongoing clashes between project opponents and police. That must end for the Army Corps’ new review to succeed, he said.

“These consultations cannot succeed in the current atmosphere, which features escalating law enforcement crackdowns and reports of violence against water protectors,” Grijalva said, urging the Justice Department to immediately send observers “to ensure that this badly needed dialogue – which should have started much sooner – is not marred by civil rights abuses.”

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An industry coalition said it expressed deep disappointment in Monday’s decision by the Army Corps. “Americans expect their government to play by the rules – and this is just another example of the Obama Administration using its perceived authority to drive a political agenda,” said Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now.

Stevens said industry and state proponents of the project are hopeful President-elect Trump will see things their way. They say 800 days of review by the Army Corps, which already approved the project, should suffice to move the pipeline ahead.

“With President-Elect Trump set to take office in 67 days, we are hopeful that this is not the final word on the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Stevens said.

Activists groups are planning a nationwide protest on Tuesday at Army Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C. and dozens of other major cities.

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