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Tribes continue to resist Corps’ ‘predetermined’ pipeline findings

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According to AP News, The Native American tribe resisting the Dakota Access oil pipeline has said that an Army Corps of Engineers document shows that before consulting them, the agency concluded the pipeline won’t unfairly affect tribes.

Standing Rock Sioux officials state that the document reinforces the tribe’s claim that the Corps disregarded a federal judge’s order to review the pipeline’s potential impact and to not treat it as a “bureaucratic formality”, reports AP News.  

Standing Rock Chairman, Mike Faith said, “This was a rigged process intended to justify a dangerous and illegal pipeline.”

AP News report that the tribes fear the pipeline could spill oil into the Missouri River and pollute water that they need for drinking, fishing and religious purposes. US District Judge James Boasberg has said that the Corps “largely complied” with the environmental law when permitting the pipeline, but did order it to further study the pipeline’s impact on the tribes.

Boasberg also said that he “expects the Corps not to treat this as an exercise in filling out the proper paperwork.”

In August 2018 the Corps announced that it had completed its work and confirmed the agency’s earlier determination that the pipeline does not pose a higher risk of adversely affecting minorities. Since then, the four tribes have challenged the conclusion leading to the Corps turning over documents that it used to make the decision to the tribes.

AP News say that among the documents was a draft memo to the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works that states that the agency carried out additional analysis ordered by the judge and “has identified no new information.”    

The memo also states, “Therefore, decisions made by the Corps were in accordance with the law and neither arbitrary nor capricious.” It is dated over three months before the Corps met with the tribes to listen to their concerns.

Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman told AP News that he believes the 2018 memo shows that the Corps did not correctly seek tribal input and that its findings were predetermined. “I don’t think it’s any new fact to anybody that this was a sham from the beginning, but it was a little startling to see it written down so plainly,” said Hasselman.