Unions push Obama to approve Dakota Access pipeline 'without delay'

Unions push Obama to approve Dakota Access pipeline 'without delay'
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Five trade unions are pushing President Obama to move forward with the Dakota Access pipeline.

The unions say the decision last month to halt consideration of a federal permit for the project threatens the livelihoods of their 3.5 million members.

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“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to indefinitely halt a project that is more than halfway constructed and has received state and federal approval raises serious concerns about the future of infrastructure development in America, and the livelihoods of our members,” says a letter to Obama signed by the heads of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Laborers' International Union of North America, the United Association, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

“We urge you to adhere to the well-established regulatory process for permitting private infrastructure projects and approve the easement for the remaining section of the Dakota Access project without delay,” they wrote.

The letter represents the strongest pushback yet by labor, a traditional Democratic ally, against the Obama administration’s reconsideration of Dakota Access.

The three federal departments are holding off on granting the permit for the pipeline to go across the federal Lake Oahe in North Dakota, while they consider whether they’ve properly taken into account the concerns of American Indian tribes, particularly the Standing Rock Sioux.

The decision to delay came after international attention to the project, thanks in part to protests at the pipeline site and in numerous cities organized by American Indians, environmentalists and their allies, who argue the pipeline could infringe upon sacred land and contaminate their drinking water.

The administration has given little sign of when it might decide on the easement.