Opinion: More tribal consultation needed on Keystone XL permit

"In June, the State Department issued a Federal Register notice announcing its intent to move ahead with a new environmental impact statement (EIS) as it considers approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Late last year, President Obama rejected TransCanada’s bid to build a $7 billion oil pipeline linking the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico so that the State Department could further study the environmental impacts of the pipeline on its 1,179 mile route from Alberta to Nebraska.

Unfortunately, it is not a brand new EIS; it is a supplemental EIS which means the State Department will take the document they issued last year and just add some new information to it. The original EIS failed to include the required government-to-government consultation with Indian Tribes and did not adhere to the laws regarding tribes, such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. The proposed northern segment of the pipeline route threatens tribal burial and cultural sites as well as the Mni Wicone watershed.

Many tribes expressed deep concern about the failure of the State Department to conduct full government-to-government consultation with tribes during the development and finalization of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) issued in August 2011. Executive Order 13175 requires federal agencies, including the State Department, to establish “an accountable process to ensure meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications.” The Executive Order further directs that “no agency shall promulgate any regulation that has tribal implications” unless the agency has “consulted with tribal officials early in the process of developing the proposed regulation.” Unfortunately, tribes believe that this Administration’s commitment to meaningfully engage tribes in regulatory actions that impact them was not fulfilled. The supplemental EIS provides the State Department with an opportunity to correct this."

Get the Story:
Opinion: State Department Still Considering Approving Keystone XL Pipeline (Indian Country Today 7/23)

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