Native American tribes bring Dakota pipeline fight to U.S. Congress

Thu Sep 22, 2016 4:47pm EDT
 
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WASHINGTON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Native American tribes took their fight to Washington on Thursday to stop development of a $3.7 billion oil pipeline, as Democrats in the U.S. Congress urged the federal government to scrap construction permits and reconsider the project.

Representative Raul Grijalva, the senior Democrat on the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, called on the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers "to withdraw the existing permits for Dakota Access pipeline."

He said the agency should then initiate a new, "transparent permitting process" that includes "robust" consultation with tribes and environmental review. The underground pipeline would traverse both federally-managed and private lands in North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Spokesmen for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers were not immediately available for comment.

Thousands of activists, including the Standing Rock Sioux of North Dakota, have been protesting the 1,100-mile (1,886-km) project being developed by Energy Transfer Partners LP, arguing it poses an environmental risk to the tribe's water supply and would violate sacred sites.

Their encampment on the North Dakota prairie marked the largest Native American protest in decades.

Republicans control the U.S. Congress but several House Democrats organized a "forum" to provide a platform for Native American tribes to voice their opposition to the pipeline and the government's permitting process.

Proponents of the pipeline were not present.

In yet another fight, aboriginal tribes from Canada and the northern United States signed a treaty on Thursday to scrap proposals to build more pipelines to carry crude from Alberta's oil sands. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is among the treaty's signatories.   Continued...