Alice Brown Otter, a young citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, addresses the Native Nations Rise rally at the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Find more Photos on Flickr
Environment | Law | National

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe warns of 'same mistakes' with new Dakota Access study

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is joining calls to force the Trump administration to engage in "meaningful consultation" on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on track to issue a revised decision on the controversial pipeline by April 2. A new analysis had been ordered after a federal judge said the administration's prior analysis was flawed.

But the tribe claims the agency has failed to learn any lessons from the high-profile dispute. Requests for technical information about oil spills at Lake Oahe in North Dakota, for example, are being "stonewalled," according to a new court filing.

"At the most basic level, this entire case arose because the Corps failed to meaningfully engage with the tribe, listen to its legitimate concerns about the siting of the pipeline at Oahe, and make a reasoned decision in light of that information," the March 2 document stated.

"Despite the court’s findings, the Corps appears to be poised to make the same mistakes again," the tribe said.

Last month, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe raised similar concerns. A filing claimed the Army Corps was "almost completely non-responsive" to requests for government-to-government consultation.

"Thus far, all tribal efforts to engage in meaningful consultation with the Corps on remand have been ignored," the February 7 document read. "As a result, the tribe has been excluded from the remand process and has been denied the opportunity to provide meaningful information relevant to the remand."

In February 2017, the Trump administration approved the final portion in North Dakota without consulting either tribe. The decision was made as Dave Archambault II, the former Standing Rock chairman, was in an airplane on his way to Washington, D.C., for a pre-arranged meeting at the White House. Cheyenne River leaders were informed in a phone call after the fact.

Oil began flowing through the pipeline on June 1 thanks to the assist from Washington. Barely two weeks later, a federal judge said the Army Corps should have taken tribal objections into account.

Native Nations Rise

Native Nations Rise
Indianz.Com on Flickr: Native Nations Rise in Washington, D.C.

Judge James Boasberg, however, did not order a halt to operations despite requests from the tribes.

A follow-up decision in November reconfirmed the "deficiencies" in the administration's handling of the controversial project. Again, Boasberg declined to stop oil from flowing.

Both tribes retain water, hunting, fishing and other rights at Lake Oahe under treaties signed with the United States. The Army Corps did not fully address those issues when it approved the final crossing there, Boasberg determined.

In its new filing, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe acknowledges that granting its request for more information and consultation could delay the April deadline for the new study. But attorneys say a delay is necessary in order to ensure the pipeline won't harm treaty territory.

"That consultation will necessarily include discussion of the protection of culturally significant sites alongside the river that could be affected by an oil spill," the filing stated.

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