Jake Tracy is an urban planner and environmentalist from Seattle, Washington. He advocates for strong climate change mitigation policy at all levels of government through use of alternative energy, sustainable patterns of development, and low-carbon materials.


The Dakota Access Pipeline is not dead, despite what you may have heard. Fortunately, there will soon be a new way you can fight it.

On Dec. 4, Native Americans and environmental activists achieved a major victory in the months-long battle against the oil pipeline, known as DAPL, yet it wasn’t as decisive as many media outlets reported. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined to grant a permit for the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. But the wording of the official announcement rendered its real message unintelligible to all but those familiar with federal government permitting processes. This led to widespread reports, found everywhere from CNN to Fox News to NPR, touting misleading and/or false information that the permit had been “denied” or that the company building it would be required to use an alternate route.

A closer look at the statement from the Army Corps of Engineers reveals that it did not, in fact, deny the permit, nor did it require the pipeline’s relocation. What the statement does say is that the Corps “will not approve an easement … to cross under Lake Oahe,” and that it will now “explore alternate routes … through an Environmental Impact Statement.” Translated into layman’s terms, the Army Corps will not approve the pipeline at this time, and is now requiring additional environmental review of the proposal, which will include evaluating alternative routes, via an environmental impact statement, or EIS.