Warren presses Army Corps of Engineers nominee on Dakota Access Pipeline

Warren presses Army Corps of Engineers nominee on Dakota Access Pipeline
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren calls on big banks to follow Capital One in ditching overdraft fees Crypto firm top executives to testify before Congress Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker won't seek reelection MORE (D-Mass.) said she remains “very concerned” about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Army Corps of Engineers’ handling of tribal opposition to the project in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday.

During a hearing for Michael Connor, President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE’s nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Warren described herself as “very concerned about the Dakota Access pipeline and what it reflects about the Army Corps of Engineers’ relationship with tribal nations.”

Warren went on to note the lawsuit against the pipeline by a tribal court against the Corps, as well as a federal court’s ruling that the Corps violated federal law by approving the pipeline without preparing an environmental impact statement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I am concerned that the pipeline continues to operate without an environmental review despite the legal requirements,” she said, asking Connor “will you commit to ensuring the Corps follows the law, and that this situation with the Dakota Access Pipeline is addressed as quickly as possible?”

“The Corps will be following the law with respect to the directions of the court, and all other applicable laws and policy,” Connor replied. “Tribal consultation is not a check-the-box exercise, it’s got to be robust [and] meaningful and that means it’s got to be substantive in the interaction with tribes.”

Warren went on to press him on whether the Corps has “dragged its feet” on deciding whether to halt the pipeline under its enforcement authority, asking if he would commit to exploring a possible exercise of such powers. Connor replied in the affirmative, saying he would “promptly look into that issue” if confirmed.

The Massachusetts Democrat went on to question Connor about the extent to which he would work to improve relations between tribal communities and the Corps, which Connor said would “be one of my highest priorities.”

“That’s what I like hearing,” Warren responded.

Judge James Boasberg, an Obama appointee, ruled in 2020 that the Corps should have conducted a full review before approving the pipeline. However, in May of this year he refused to halt the pipeline during the review process.