Energy & Environment

33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline

Greg Nash

A group of 33 Democratic lawmakers is asking President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access pipeline after a court left the decision about whether to do so up to the administration. 

The legislators wrote to Biden on Monday that he should shut down the pipeline while it faces a court-ordered environmental review. 

“By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries,” they wrote. 

“This is a critical step towards righting the wrongs of the past and setting our nation on a path of environmental, climate, and social justice,” they added, arguing that the way in which law enforcement removed protesters from the site in 2016 was “egregious environmental racism.”

A court in January ruled against a decision by the federal government that allowed for the Dakota Access’s construction, determining that the Army Corps of Engineers should have conducted an environmental impact statement before the pipeline was allowed to move forward. 

But for the time being, it left the decision on whether to shut down the now-operation pipeline on that ground, up to the agency. 

“How and on what terms the Corps will enforce its property rights is … a matter for the Corps to consider,” the three-judge panel wrote. 

It was originally slated to decide on Feb. 10, but this was pushed back to April 9 at the administration’s request. 

The Dakota Access pipeline was completed in 2017 after former President Trump ordered for it to be revived, a reversal from when the Obama administration denied a permit for the project. 

The pipeline has drawn massive protests from environmentalists and tribes and have raised concerns about the risk of oil spills, with the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes challenging it in court. 

However, the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA) Nation recently requested a consultation on the potential shutdown, noting that the pipeline brings its oil to market. 

A White House spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to the The Hill’s request for comment on the letter, but in regard to a different pipeline, the spokesperson recently told The Hill that it will evaluate infrastructure proposals based on energy needs, if they will help the country reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and whether they can create good-paying union jobs.

Thursday’s letter was led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Raul Ruiz (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).  

Tags Dakota Access Pipeline DAPL Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Jeff Merkley Joe Biden Raul Ruiz

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