Participants in Native Nations Rise gather outside of the headquarters of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe still waiting on Dakota Access decision

The Trump administration has yet to release its revised Dakota Access Pipeline decision, more than two weeks after it was announced in federal court.

No one -- except for a few people in Washington, D.C. -- have seen it. That includes the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose leaders and citizens began the fight against the controversial crude oil pipeline more than two years ago, turning the #NoDAPL movement into an international cause.

"An oil spill affecting Lake Oahe would pose an existential threat to our culture," Chairman Mike Faith, Jr. writes in Indian Country Today. "It would fundamentally undermine our treaty-protected rights to the integrity of our homelands and the waters that sustain us.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final portion of the pipeline on August 31, according to a two-page "memorandum for record" that was filed in court that day. But the actual, 100-page decision was not released at the time because it is "undergoing a confidentiality review," the Department of Justice wrote in a separate filing.

It's not clear how long that review will take. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the document still had not been submitted in court.

Once the decision is released, the tribe will be able to determine its next move. Continued litigation is one option.

"The tribe will review the Corps’ Aug. 31 decision closely to determine how best to proceed, in close consultation with our membership, staff, and advisors," Faith writes in ICT.

The final portion of the 1,100-mile pipeline crosses federally-managed land at Lake Oahe along the Missouri River. The site is less than a half-mile from the northern border of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The Army Corps, barely two weeks after President Donald Trump took office, approved the easement without informing Standing Rock or other affected tribes. That process was flawed, a federal judge later determined, so a new decision was ordered back in June 2017.

Read More on the Story
Mike Faith, Jr.: Federal permit process for the Dakota Access Pipeline was illegal and flawed (Indian Country Today September 18, 2018)

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