Native American Tribes Still Fighting Pipeline, Score Small Victory
A federal judge is allowing four Native American tribes -- the Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Yankton, and Oglala Sioux -- to challenge the recent conclusion of federal officials that a Dakota Access oil pipeline spill wouldn't unfairly affect them. The four tribes sued in July 2016 and continue fighting even though the $3.8 billion pipeline began moving North Dakota oil to Illinois in June 2017. The tribes contend the Corps has simply rubber-stamped earlier conclusions that were blessed by pro-energy Donald Trump days after he took office. They call the work a sham and argue that the Corps either didn't allow them adequate input or give enough weight to the information they provided. The Corps retorts that the tribes have been difficult to work with. Tribes late last year asked to challenge the Corps' 140-page report on its additional work. The judge, in a ruling dated Friday, said he will allow it but said the Corps and Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners can oppose the introduction of any new tribal claims not specifically related to the additional study. The judge set a January 31st deadline for the Corps to give the tribes access to all of the documents it used in making its decision. The tribes want a full environmental study that includes consideration of alternative routes. Standing Rock attorney Jan Hasselman estimated the legal dispute will linger into at least the summer. More here.