Native Sun News Today: Tribes push back on Trump's pipeline orders

Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe addresses youth in Bismarck, North Dakota, on September 9, 2016. Photo courtesy United Tribes News

Pipeline spills, ‘a question of when not if’
Trump signs executive order on DAPL
By Talli Nauman
Native Sun News Today
Health & Environment Editor

FT. YATES, N. D. –– Tribal government, grassroots indigenous leaders and allies renewed vows to triumph in preventing construction of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines through unceded 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty territory.

Noting a “clear conflict of interest,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II said that action to fulfill Trump’s campaign promise “didn’t need to be made within four days of taking office,” adding, “The problem is the president had no consideration for what we were doing in working with the state governor.”

Archambault said he was still trying to get POTUS to answer his requests for an audience when Trump signed the memos. “I guarantee they were talking to Energy Transfer Partners,” he said in a news conference on Jan. 25.

The memo on Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider “whether to rescind or modify” its Dec. 4 denial of a permit to build across the Missouri River one-half mile upstream from the Standing Rock tribal drinking water intake in the Oahe Reservoir.

It also directed the Army Corps to consider “whether to withdraw” its Jan. 18 notice of intent to conduct a full environmental impact assessment before making a permit decision.

In a Jan. 26 letter to Trump, Archambault wrote that the change in course “is arbitrary and without justification. The law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the president’s whim,” the letter said.

“It makes it even more difficult when one considers the close personal ties you and your associates have had with Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco,” Archambault stated in the letter.

Sunoco Logistics Partners would receive DAPL oil for refining at Texas gulf export facilities, if Energy Transfer Partners, along with Phillips 66, Enbridge Corp., and Marathon Oil Corp., obtain the Army Corps river crossing permit. Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners are currently facing a class-action suit over a merger.

The more than $3.7-billion proposal to finish the nearly 1,200-mile toxic fracked oil line would move the highly flammable product from the Bakken Formation centered on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation across more than 200 surface water bodies in the unceded Lakota treaty territory of North and South Dakota through Iowa to an Illinois transfer station.

Trump’s directive, borrowing from DAPL’s arguments in federal District Court, says that the DAPL easement should be approved based on a July 2016 environmental assessment (EA), which is less detailed than an environmental impact statement.

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Chair Harold Frazier argued that the EA was prepared without considering treaty rights. “The United States Constitution declares that treaties with Indian tribes are the supreme law of the land,” Frazier said. “President Trump cannot steamroll over the Constitution and our treaties.”

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe has joined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in a federal lawsuit against the Army Corps for lack of sufficient tribal consultation on water and cultural resources in the permitting process.

The EA did not provide a full analysis of alternative routes, Frazier complained in a written statement Jan. 24. “If this pipeline is so safe, then why did they reroute it from north of Bismarck to our lands and waters?” he asked. “Our lands and waters were reserved in treaty with the United States and must be protected!”

Yankton Sioux Tribal Chair Robert Flying Hawk responded similarly to the memos. “The executive memoranda are blatant attempts to violate our rights as native people,” he said. “Our right to consultation is meant to protect our treaty rights, our culture, and our spirituality.”

In a written statement, the tribe said that turning back the clock on the DAPL environmental impact statement process would violate the Administrative Procedures Act.

“This attempt to shortcut through the legal process shows disrespect for the law and for Indian tribes,” Flying Hawk said. “President Trump is setting a poor tone for tribal relations over the next four years,” he added.

The Yankton Sioux Tribe has never been properly consulted to ensure that its treaty lands and sacred sites are not harmed in “Trump’s haste to complete the pipelines,” he said on Jan. 25.

He sent a letter to Trump, on behalf of the tribe, or Ihanktonwan Nation, requesting the president “immediately release and make public all correspondence and communications received by your office” regarding the memoranda.

“The Yankton Sioux Tribe, whose treaty and ancestral lands are under threat by these projects, is dismayed by your executive actions taken just four days after you assumed office and seven days after the Army Department’s issuance of a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection with the Dakota Access Pipeline,” the Jan. 27 letter said.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Pipeline spills, ‘a question of when not if'

(Contact Talli Nauman at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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