33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline

33 Democrats urge Biden to shut down Dakota Access Pipeline
© Greg Nash

A group of 33 Democratic lawmakers is asking President BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE 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to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries,” they wrote. 

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“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 TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE 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 WarrenElizabeth WarrenMisguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon Biden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Mass.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleySenate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act Democrats call on White House to explore sharing Moderna technology abroad Lawmakers introduce bill to limit data collection at border crossings MORE (D-Ore.) and Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Raul RuizRaul RuizHispanic caucus calls for Fort Hood to be renamed in honor of Mexican American general Biden to meet with 11 Democratic lawmakers on DACA: report Harris hears criticism from all sides amid difficult first trip MORE (D-Calif.) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).