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Leaders of key Senate panel divided on Dakota Access Pipeline

Filed Under: Environment | National | Politics
More on: 115th, borders, dakota access pipeline, democrats, donald trump, immigration, jennifer romero, john hoeven, keystone xl pipeline, mike andrews, republicans, scia, senate, tom udall
     
   

Native women lead a #NoDAPL Day of Action march in Washington, D.C., on November 15, 2016. Photo by Indianz.Com / Available for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is meeting for the first time of the 115th Congress and already the leaders of the normally bipartisan panel are at odds on a major issue.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-North Dakota) is serving as chairman of the committee for the first time. He has generally won praise from tribal leaders in North Dakota, where he served three terms as governor, and in the Great Plains for his work on economic development, public safety, tribal courts, gaming and other issues.

But Hoeven has parted ways with Indian Country on the biggest action item of the day. He supports not only the Dakota Access Pipeline but the Keystone XL Pipeline even though tribes and their citizens don't want either project on their homelands.

"We made a strong case with the new administration for approving an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline project without delay," Hoeven said in a statement last week after Republican President Donald Trump signed two pro-development directives. "The company has complied with all federal and state requirements and should be allowed to complete the project."

Hoeven's position puts him at odds with his Democratic counterpart. Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), the new vice chairman of the panel, has recognized the widespread opposition in Indian Country to both pipelines.

"While it seems like a foregone conclusion that President Trump will reject thoughtful environmental policies, as the vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, I am extremely worried about what President Trump's abrupt reversal of these steps - at a time when parties are working to reduce tensions - forecasts for his administration's approach to issues affecting Indian Country," Udall said in a press release.

The disagreement isn't unique to Hoeven or Udall. Energy projects like Dakota Access and Keystone have fueled partisan splits across the country, with Republicans rushing to defend the fossil fuel industry while Democrats question whether tribes have been adequately consulted about developments in their backyards.

Still, the division highlights a lack of unity on the Indian Affairs Committee at a time when tribes are looking to Congress to exercise its check-and-balance powers over an executive branch led by a polarizing and unpredictable figure. In addition to his infrastructure directives, Trump last week also called for the "immediate" construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border but excluded tribes as partners in the effort.

Unsurprisingly, Hoeven sided with the White House on the controversial border security and immigration orders. Udall, on the other hand, called Trump's action "shameful" as protests sprung up at airports across the country in hopes of welcoming new arrivals to the United States.

But the differences among Hoeven and Udall aren't expected to hinder their committee's work in the new session of Congress. In addition to the business meeting on Tuesday morning, the panel's first oversight hearing on emergency management issues, takes place February 8.

During the last session of Congress, committee members of both parties worked together to advance a large number of tribal bills, a number of which were signed into law. They also convened a seemingly endless stream of hearings and meetings that put their counterparts in the House to shame.

But the lack of agreement between Hoeven and Udall means hot-button issues like Dakota Access will stay off the committee's radar unless Republicans agree to focus on them. It was Republicans, for example, who repeatedly brought up the Gold King Mine environmental disaster during the 114th Congress because it allowed them to accuse the Obama administration of wrongdoing.

Questioning whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handled the permitting process for Dakota Access properly, on the other hand, runs the risk of Republicans appearing to criticize the energy industry or of going against a president from their own party.

At tomorrow's meeting, the committee will formally select the chair and vice chair. Members also will adopt rules for the committee and a funding resolution.

Despite the change in leadership -- both the chair and vice chair are new to the posts -- Mike Andrews is expected to remain as the Republican staff director and chief counsel for the committee. He worked closely with tribal leaders and tribal advocates when Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) served as chairman.

On the Democratic side, Jennifer Romero is the new director and counsel. She is a descendant of Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico although she is not at this time enrolled in the tribe.

"Her extensive experience with Native American law and policy will be a great asset to me and the committee as we work with Tribes in New Mexico and around the nation to ensure the United States meets its treaty obligations and works to create jobs and boost the economy on tribal lands," Udall said in a press release. Romero worked at the Interior Department during the Obama administration.

Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Notices:
Organizational Business Meeting (January 31, 2017)
Oversight Hearing on "Emergency Management in Indian Country: Improving FEMA's Federal-Tribal Relationship with Indian Tribes." (January 31, 2017)

White House Documents:
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24, 2017)
Executive Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24, 2017)
Presidential Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Press Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Enery and Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota (January 18, 2017)

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Sparring continues in #NoDAPL lawsuit as tribes seek halt to work (9/16)
Bronson Koenig hosts basketball clinic for youth at Standing Rock (9/16)
Senate passes water bill but fails to include #NoDAPL amendment (9/15)
White House to respond to #NoDAPL petition with 203K signatures (9/15)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Prophecy and the people at Standing Rock (9/15)
Mark Trahant: There is something we can do to help Standing Rock (9/15)
Native Sun News Today: #NoDAPL movement forges ahead to win (9/15)
Mary Annette Pember: Indigenous women lead prayers for water (9/15)
Steve Russell: Legal encounters and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/15)
Emotions run strong as #NoDAPL seeps into debate on lands bill (9/14)
Defenders of the Water School is going strong at #NoDAPL camp (9/14)
Key House Democrats call for hearing on Dakota Access Pipeline (9/14)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pipeline destroys our sacred and cultural sites (9/14)
Jori Kaniehtakohe Rourke: Our people unite in #NoDAPL battle (9/14)
Hundreds rally at White House to block Dakota Access Pipeline (9/13)
Judge won't grant injunction to protect sacred sites in DAPL path (9/12)
Democracy Now: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe creates 'awakening' (9/12)
Mark Trahant: #NoDAPL movement forces long overdue debate (9/12)
Matthew Fletcher: Obama joins tribes on the right side of history (9/12)
Steve Russell: Anonymous makes appearance in #NoDAPL fight (9/12)
Liz Perez Halperin: Why this warrior stands up for Standing Rock (9/12)
Obama steps in with major action halting Dakota Access Pipeline (9/9)
Tribes move quickly to protect sacred lands within pipeline path (9/9)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe thanks Obama for #NoDAPL stance (9/9)
Indian Country eagerly anticipates decision in #NoDAPL lawsuit (9/9)
Lakota Country Times: Henry Red Cloud takes stand for #NoDAPL (9/9)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A history of resistance at Standing Rock (9/9)
Steve Russell: Legal encounters and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/9)
Obama dodges #NoDAPL query as youth question commitment (9/8)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe urges calm ahead of #NoDAPL ruling (9/8)
Mark Trahant: White House must get involved in #NoDAPL fight (9/8)
Native Sun News Today: Law clamps down on #NoDAPL resisters (9/8)
Ivan Star Comes Out: #NoDAPL movement is about sacred water (9/8)
Jim Gray: Mainstream media is missing the major #NoDAPL story (9/8)
Gyasi Ross: Doing your part to ensure #NoDAPL keeps on winning (9/8)
Sheriff recruiting more law enforcement for #NoDAPL campsites (9/8)
#NoDAPL movement takes center stage at North Dakota summit (9/7)
Lakota Country Times: School going strong at #NoDAPL campsite (9/7)
Mark Charles: The #NoDAPL struggle continues after hearing in DC (9/7)
Dave Archambault II: The Dakota Access Pipeline musn't be built (9/7)
Eastern Cherokees contribute $50K to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (9/7)
Jill Stein of Green Party faces charges for standing with #NoDAPL (9/7)
Dave Archambault: Dakota Access Pipeline destroys sacred sites (9/7)
Steven Newcomb: Vicious dogs unleashed on #NoDAPL resisters (9/7)
Mike Myers: Historic ties between the Haudenosaunee and Sioux (9/7)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe disappointed with ruling in #NoDAPL case (9/6)
Dakota Access fires back at tribes ahead of hearing in federal court (9/6)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes still united at #NoDAPL encampment (9/6)
Native Sun News: Death highlights dangers of Dakota Access work (9/6)
Hearing ordered after Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports destruction (9/5)
Army Corps backs restraining order against Dakota Access Pipeline (9/5)
Quinault Nation sends Grandfather Canoe to #NoDAPL encampment (9/5)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Dogs attack peaceful #NoDAPL resisters (9/5)
LaDonna Brave Bull Allard: We have no choice but to defend water (9/5)
Jacqueline Keeler: #NoDAPL resistance is part of something bigger (9/5)
Steve Russell: Federal Indian law and the Dakota Access Pipeline (9/5)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reports cultural finds near pipeline path (9/2)
Mark Trahant: #NoDAPL poses test for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine (9/2)
Native Sun News: Cartoonist brings humor to #NoDAPL movement (9/2)
Tribal activists cheer demise of controversial pipeline in Minnesota (9/2)
United Nations Forum backs Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on #NoDAPL (9/1)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe joins #NoDAPL efforts (9/1)
Jim Kent: The real truth about the #NoDAPL resistance movement (9/1)
Mark Trahant: Candidate shows support for #NoDAPL movement (9/1)
Lakota Country Times: #NoDAPL roadblock remains a major issue (8/31)
Brandon Ecoffey: #NoDAPL resistance is the start of a movement (8/31)
Dave Archambault: Struggle unfolds on Standing Rock Sioux land (8/31)
Terri Miles: Indian Country unites to stare down the black snake (8/31)
Joel Heitkamp: Officials in North Dakota need a lesson in respect (8/31)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe confirms lack of easement for pipeline (8/30)
Supplies needed for #NoDAPL Defenders of Sacred Water School (8/30)
Lakota Country Times: Students witness history at pipeline camp (8/30)
Vi Waln: Media distorts peaceful nature of sacred #NoDAPL camp (8/30)
Mike Myers: Historic ties between the Haudenosaunee and Sioux (8/30)
Mark Anthony Rolo: Tribes remain at mercy of bad federal policies (8/30)
Defenders of the Water School opens at pipeline resistance camp (8/29)
Lakota Country Times: Resisters dispute emergency declaration (8/29)
Dave Archambault: Stopping the desecration of our Mother Earth (8/29)
Mark Trahant: State erects roadblock at peaceful #NoDAPL camp (8/29)
Latoya Lonelodge: Witnessing history at Camp of Sacred Stones (8/29)
Jon Eagle: Land remains sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (8/29)
Albert Bender: Tribes join together at Camp of the Sacred Stones (8/29)
Steven Newcomb: Law of Christendom at play in #NoDAPL battle (8/29)
Arvol Looking Horse: Saving our Earth from energy development (8/29)
Tribal Tribune: Unity at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's #NoDAPL camp (8/26)
Winona LaDuke: Corporate interests come to destroy our mother (8/26)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: #NoDAPL campaign awakens our people (8/26)
Dakota Access Pipeline lacks key approval to build by reservation (8/26)
Lummi Nation sends totem pole to #NoDAPL camp in North Dakota (8/26)
Dave Archambault: Why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting (8/25)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chair dispels rumors about camp site (8/25)
Sen. Bernie Sanders joining opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline (8/25)
Native Sun News: Thousands join #NoDAPL resistance movement (8/25)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees strong support at pipeline hearing (8/24)
Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand on Dakota Access (8/24)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe seeks prayers ahead of pipeline hearing (8/23)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe joins fight against pipeline (8/23)
Brandon Ecoffey: The Horse Nations prepare for battle over pipeline (8/23)
Simon Moya-Smith: Hillary Clinton remains silent amid pipeline feud (8/23)
Steven Newcomb: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe challenges domination (8/23)
Sheriff mistook sacred pipes for pipe bombs at pipeline protest site (8/23)
Tribes prepare for critical hearing in Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit (8/22)
Mark Trahant: Pipeline fight highlights power of political organizing (8/22)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes unite to stop Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Vi Waln: Our water system is being threatened by energy pipelines (8/22)
Winona LaDuke: Bigger problems ahead for Dakota Access Pipeline (8/22)
Dallas Goldtooth: Tribes shut out of Dakota Access Pipeline process (8/22)
Native Sun News: Resistance grows against Dakota Access Pipeline (08/18)
Harold Frazier: Obama must put a stop to Dakota Access Pipeline (08/15)
Tribes and Native youth join forces in campaign to stop oil pipeline (08/11)
Democrats embrace tribal sovereignty in platform for convention (07/08)
Dakota Access Pipeline to go underneath tribal burial site in Iowa (06/22)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles oil pipeline (06/08)
Iowa board approves energy pipeline work amid tribal objections (06/07)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (05/26)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeks halt to construction of pipeline (05/12)
Native Sun News: Youth run 500 miles to protest new oil pipeline (05/11)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to stop pipeline (04/27)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Army Corps to discuss oil pipeline (04/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes gaining traction in war against pipelines (04/20)
Brandon Ecoffey: Tribes continue battle against energy pipelines (04/19)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sets up sacred camp to oppose pipeline (04/15)
Native Sun News: Tribes organize against Dakota Access Pipeline (04/13)
Iowa Tribe joins fight against oil pipeline on aboriginal territory (3/24)
Native Sun News: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe battles pipeline plan (3/14)
Native Sun News: Tribes fight another pipeline through Great Plains (07/07)
Meskwaki Tribe opposes oil pipeline through aboriginal territory (03/17)

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