Environment | Opinion

Dallas Goldtooth: Tribes shut out of Dakota Access Pipeline process






Upwards of 2,000 people have been gathering at the Sacred Stone Camp at a a neighboring camp in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo from Indigenous Environmental Network

Tribes are fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline over concerns about t their water sources and their way of life. But Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network lays the blame for the controversy at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a process that fails to adequately consider tribal interests:
The recent news that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved nearly all the permits for the Dakota Access dirty oil pipeline, while disappointing, was not a surprise.

The Corps has a long history of going against the wishes and health of tribal nations – by putting our water resources, our climate and our communities at risk – in favor of fossil fuel interests. This is enabled by the Nationwide Permit No. 12 process, which is a blanket permit it can use to fast-track the construction of massive pipelines by artificially treating them as thousands of small, individual projects that are exempt from the environmental review required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. As the fossil fuel industry has begun to realize that the more the public learns about these projects, the more the public opposes them, they have increasingly looked to this process because it shuts out public input and allows dangerous crude oil and fracked gas pipelines to be approved behind closed doors.

Now this is exactly what has just happened with Dakota Access, a massive crude oil pipeline that would extend 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat. The pipeline would travel through the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s ancestral lands and pass within half a mile of its current reservation. Not only would this threaten sacred sites and culturally important landscapes, it would also be dug under the Missouri River, just upstream of the Tribe’s drinking water supply. If there were to be a spill – which history has taught us is not a question of “if,” but “when” – it would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe’s culture and way of life.

Read More from Dallas Goldtooth:
Dallas Goldtooth: Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Disappoints (Indian Country Today 8/22)

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