BISMARCK, N.D.- The leader of the Standing Rock Sioux is urging President Donald Trump to reconsider his push for completion of the
$3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline.
Tribal spokeswoman Sue Evans says Chairman Dave Archambault requested a meeting with Trump in a letter sent Wednesday, warning that relations between the new administration and the Native American community have “gotten off on the wrong foot.” It’s not clear if Trump has received the letter.
Trump signed an executive action Tuesday ordering the Army Corps of Engineers to quickly reconsider its Dec. 4 decision to stop pipeline construction to allow for a study to determine the environmental impact of routing the pipeline under a North Dakota reservoir.
The tribe gets its drinking water from Lake Oahe and worries about a pipeline spill.
In a statement, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said Tuesday President Donald Trump’s executive action towards an approval of an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline risks contaminating tribal and American water supplies while disregarding treaty rights. The Trump administration’s politically motivated decision violates the law and the Tribe will take legal action to fight it.
“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream.”
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers rejected DAPL’s request for an easement late last year, finding that the agency had failed to fully consider the impacts of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Department of the Army pledged to conduct a full environmental review of the Missouri River crossing and evaluate alternative sites, which would not put the Tribe at risk of an oil spill. However, that environmental review would be circumvented under Tuesday’s Executive Order, allowing the project to immediately resume construction
“We are not opposed to energy independence,” chairman David Archambault II said in the statement. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”
Trump’s press secretary said on Monday that Trump intended to approve the easement with an aim towards job creation. But tribal leaders note the bulk of pipeline jobs are in pipeline construction. The pipeline only creates a total of 15 permanent jobs in North Dakota. A reroute would protect the Tribe’s water and create hundreds of jobs, Archambault said.
Standing Rock said it’s not a matter of if, but when DAPL will leak. Sunoco, one of the American companies operating DAPL, has a poor record on pipeline safety and spill prevention. Data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, show operators have reported about 200 crude oil spills per year, on average. More than 176,000 gallons of oil spilled in western North Dakota last month alone.
Archambault said Trump’s decision appears to be a political payback. “By granting the easement, Trump is risking our treaty rights and water supply to benefit his wealthy contributors and friends at DAPL,” he said. “We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.”
After signing the executive order, President Trump ignore a reporter’s question regarding the protesters at Standing Rock.
“Mr. Trump, any comment to the Standing Rock community and the protesters out there?” the reporter asked in the Oval Office after he finished signing five executive orders.
The president then put his head down and looked in the opposite direction. He then answered another question asking when he would make his Supreme Court nomination.
Mary Kathryn Nagle, an attorney and citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, called on the new president to respect the sovereign-to-sovereign relationship between the country and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
“The current, incredibly high, rates of abuse, sexual assault, and sex trafficking against Native women in the Bakken region of North Dakota clearly demonstrate that the imposition of a rapid increase in oil extraction on or near tribal lands without the consent of the local Tribal Nations significantly threatens the safety of their citizens, and in particular, their women and children,” she told The Independent in an email.
“As a Native attorney working to restore safety for Native women and children, I urge President Trump to respect the sovereign-to-sovereign relationship between the United States and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.”