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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe acknowledges 'setback' in Dakota Access Pipeline war

Filed Under: Environment | Law | National | Politics
More on: dakota access pipeline, dave archambault, donald trump, north dakota, standing rock sioux, usace
     
   

Chairman Dave Archambault II of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at the Native Nations Rise rally in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com / More on Flickr

The Dakota Access Pipeline might be ready to move oil but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe remains committed to battling the controversial project in every way possible.

The tribe went to court last July in hopes of preventing the pipeline from running through its treaty territory. The ensuing struggle generated international attention and prompted the Obama administration to put a hold on the final portion of the project in North Dakota.

But everything changed in January after President Donald Trump came into power. Just four days after taking office, he ordered his administration to review the pipeline in an "expedited" manner.

And while Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II was on his way to the White House to engage with the new administration on a government-to-government basis, the Trump team went ahead and approved the pipeline. Less than two months later, work on the final portion is complete and crude oil has already been placed below Lake Oahe along the Missouri River.

“While we are disappointed that our pleas to the court and current administration have thus far fallen on deaf ears, we remain committed to fighting the transmission of dirty fossil fuels through our territory and putting a stop to the flow of oil in this pipeline,” Archambault said in a statement on Tuesday.

The tribe still has a motion pending to set aside the Trump administration's approval of the pipeline. If the request is granted, the tribe believes Dakota Access will be required to remove oil from the pipeline.

"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe would like to reiterate that while this is a setback, and a frightening one at that, we will not stop at any cost," the tribe said in the statement. "Just because oil flow is pending does not mean that it cannot be stopped by court order, and we have a strong, ongoing case in front of the courts at this moment. We will exhaust every appeal."

The pipeline crosses Lake Oahe less than a half-mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to examine the impacts of the project on its treaty rights, sacred sites and water resources.

The tribe has especially been worried about the potential for the pipeline to rupture and spill oil into the Missouri, which supplies water to the reservation.

Dakota Access argues that the project is safe and notes that the pipe has been installed far below the surface of the Lake Oahe. But the firm has kept oil spill response documents secret from the public due to concerns about vandalism and damage to the infrastructure.

Though the pipeline is essentially complete, Dakota Access on Monday said it is not yet fully operational. The firm, though, does not plan on filing further status updates "unless otherwise directed by the court." The last one was submitted on Monday evening.

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