(SD)-Standing Rock Sioux Wants More Involvement In Dakota Access Study
BISMARK, N.D. (AP) - The American Indian tribe leading the legal fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline is accusing federal officials of being uncooperative as they complete a court-ordered environmental study of the project more extensive than the original study.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked a federal judge to order that it be allowed "a meaningful role" in the process, similar to a request made last month by the Cheyenne River Sioux . If U.S. District Judge James Boasberg grants the requests, it could delay the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' anticipated April 2 completion of the work.
The $3.8 billion dollar Dakota Access pipeline began moving North Dakota oil to Illinois last June and Judge Boasberg is allowing oil to flow while the additional environmental review is done.
The Corps has been working since last summer to meet Boasberg's order to further study the pipeline's impact on tribal interests, including how an oil spill under Lake Oahe in the Dakotas might impact the tribes' water supply.
Late last year, he also ordered the Corps and Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners to work with the tribes on completing a spill response plan and selecting an independent engineering company to review whether the project complies with federal laws and regulations.
Standing Rock Tribal attorney Jan Hasselman in court documents filed March 2 accuses the Corps of "consistently ignoring the requests of the tribe for information and meaningful consultation" and calls the tribe's participation "correspondingly handicapped."
Hasselman wrote that "government-to-government consultation has not even begun" and the tribe "remains in the dark about the exchange of information that is occurring between ETP and the Corps." He also accuses ETP of not adequately consulting with the tribe over selection of the independent third-party auditor and the scope of the review, and asks Judge Boasberg to intervene.
Officials with the Corps and ETP didn't respond to requests for comment. The most recent status report filed by the Corps with the court on Feb. 1 detail difficulties in obtaining "substantive information" needed from the tribes.
The agency complained that letters from the tribes "generally concern the scope, timing and format of the Corps' prior information requests instead of responding with the actual information requested."
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