Feds call for further discussion before Dakota pipeline can move forward

Feds call for further discussion before Dakota pipeline can move forward
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The Army Corps of Engineers will not grant an easement for construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline until it has discussed the matter further with the Native American tribe that is suing to stop it.

In a Monday statement, the Army Corps said it has completed its two-month review of the permitting decisions that went into the Dakota Access Pipeline project. That review approved of the permitting process, with the Corps saying in a letter to Dakota Access developers and tribal opponents that its “previous decision comported with legal requirements.”

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But the agency said it would not issue the easement necessary for construction of a stretch of the project until it has had a chance to discuss the pipeline with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. 

“We take seriously our government-to-government relationship with the tribe,” Assistant Secretary for the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy wrote in the letter. 

“This history, the importance of Lake Oahe to the tribe and our government-to-government relationship call for caution, respect and particular care regarding the proposed DAPL crossing at Lake Oahe.”

The letter said “additional discussion with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and analysis are warranted.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has sued against the pipeline, warning that it threatens cultural heritage sites and the tribe’s drinking water supply at North Dakota’s Lake Oahe. 

A federal judge in September ruled in favor of the Army Corps’ permitting process for the pipeline, a decision that allowed construction on most of the line to move forward.

But the Army Corps has not granted an easement for construction at Lake Oahe. Amid tribal and environmentalist protests against Dakota Access, the Army Corps said it would review its approval process for the pipeline and decide afterward whether to issue the easement.

Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault said in a statement that, while the decision on the permitting process wasn’t what the tribe wanted, We are encouraged and know that the peaceful prayer and demonstration at Standing Rock have powerfully brought to light the unjust narrative suffered by tribal nations and Native Americans across the country.”

Dakota Access’s developers did not immediately have comments on the decision Monday. 

The MAIN Coalition, a group that supports the pipeline, called the decision “extrajudicial” and “political.”
 
"By its own review and admission, the Army Corps of Engineers did everything right,” a spokesman for the group said in a statement. 
 
“Americans expect their government to play by the rules — and this is just another example of the Obama Administration using its perceived authority to drive a political agenda.”
 
—This post was updated at 9:34 a.m.