The U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Army and the Department of the Interior are calling on the Dakota Access Pipeline owners to “voluntarily pause” construction on a 40-mile span of land that is sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux community. The government’s request comes after a federal judge denied the tribe's request Friday to temporarily stop the pipeline’s construction.
The federal government wants to "reconsider any of its previous decisions" on land bordering or under Lake Oahe. Until then, “construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.”
The judge's ruling
"As it has previously mentioned, this Court does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance to the Standing Rock Sioux. Aware of the indignities visited upon the Tribe over the last centuries, the Court scrutinizes the permitting process here with particular care. Having done so, the Court must nonetheless conclude that the Tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here. The Court, therefore, will issue a contemporaneous Order denying the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction."
Read the complete opinion from Judge James Boasberg at https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/show_public_doc?2016cv1534-39
Feds: Discussion on reform needed
The Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters have clearly had their voices heard in Washington, as the government is also calling for a discussion of nationwide reform that considers tribal views on infrastructure projects.
“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.,” the joint statement from the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said.
Full statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior
“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.
“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
“Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.
“Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.
“In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”