Tribe tries again to block Dakota Access pipeline

Lawyer for Earthjustice says White House approval is "arbitrary and capricious."
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Feb. 15, 2017 at 6:30 AM
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Feb. 15 (UPI) -- The tribe at the center of the debate over the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline said it was again challenging the White House on the issue.

President Donald Trump last week gave final approval to finish the last stretch of the oil pipeline in North Dakota beneath Lake Oahe, a federally owned body of water. That section is the last major hurdle standing in the way of the line's completion and the center of the debate over the controversial artery.

David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said his organization filed a legal brief seeking a reversal of permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for pipeline construction.

"President Trump claims he has not received 'a single phone call' opposing this widely criticized project," he said in a statement. "Maybe he should turn the White House phones back on, because millions of people have raised their voices against this dangerous project."

Trump signed an executive order shortly after taking the oath of office that calls for the expedited review and approval of domestic energy infrastructure like Dakota Access and the Keystone XL oil pipelines.

Acting under the authority of Trump's predecessor, the Army Corps of Engineers said further review of Dakota Access was needed in order to assess tribal interests associated with the construction of the last few hundred feet of the pipeline. Under Trump, the Army scrapped plans to finish its environmental review of the project.

Jan Hasselman, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the tribe, said the Trump administration was breaking from precedent by sidelining tribal interests.

"In this arbitrary and capricious reversal of course, the Trump administration is circumventing the law," he said.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a Republican, said many of the project delays were politically driven. After meeting with pipeline opponents in late January, he pledged to continue the dialogue "in the interest of reaching a safe and peaceful resolution."

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