AP

In a crushing setback for the opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified Congress on Tuesday that it will grant the necessary easement to restart the highly controversial pipeline's construction.

It remains unclear at this time when the easement will officially be granted, and how soon thereafter construction will resume on the pipeline.

Advertisement

The move comes after clear indications from the Trump administration that the pipeline will be completed. It's also a reversal of the Army Corps' initial refusal to grant the easement in late 2016.

Critics of DAPL contend that its current construction route presents an environmental risk to the Native community of the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. Protesters and activists have spent more than a year resisting continued construction of the pipeline, braving freezing temperatures and harsh crackdowns from local law enforcement.

This month police staged a large scale raid on an area protest camp, arresting 76 people including, activist and former North Dakota congressional candidate Chase Iron Eyes. There was also a harrowing encounter between protesters and police on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Sponsored

Representatives for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had previously stated that any attempt to grant the easement for the continued construction of the oil pipeline would be challenged in court.

"If the Corps abandons the previously announced review process and issues the easement, it will be yet another case of Trump ordering a federal agency to sidestep the law," attorney Jan Hasselman told the Huffington Post. "The issue will be in front of a federal judge very quickly."