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President Pauses Dakota Access Pipeline, Will Consult with Tribes

So much for dodging Dakota Access….

At a town hall in Laos on Wednesday, President Barack Obama sounded like he wasn’t tuned in to the specifics of the Dakota Access pipeline and the big tribal protest against it at the Cannonball–Missouri confluence in North Dakota. Back in D.C. on Friday, minutes after a federal judge ruled that Dakota Access could keep laying its Bakken oil pipeline, President Obama appears to have dispatched three federal agencies to say “Whoa!”

Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army released a joint statement saying the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and its allies have raised legitimate concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline that require further discussion. The government will invite tribes to formal talks this fall to discuss “(1) within the existing statutory framework, what should the federal government do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure-related reviews and decisions and the protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights; and (2) should new legislation be proposed to Congress to alter that statutory framework and promote those goals.” The Army will not allow Dakota Access to lay pipe on Army Corps of Engineers land “bordering or under Lake Oahe” until the Corps has reviewed the project in the context of the National Environmental Protection Act and other federal laws. The feds are asking Dakota Access to “voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”

Indigenous Environmental Network activist recognizes the Obama Administration’s action is a pause, not a full stop. Nonetheless, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe calls the federal intervention “stunning.” Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II sees the administration’s action as more significant than the court ruling: “A public policy win is a lot stronger than a judicial win…. It’s a win for all Indians. It’s a win for indigenous people.” Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, calls it “flagrant overreach.” The Obama Administration’s action still does not go as far as an amendment to the Water Resources Development Act proposed Thursday by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to require the Army to conduct an environmental review before granting Dakota Access permission to cross Lake Oahe.

Maybe the Obama Administration wasn’t paying attention to Dakota Access earlier this week. Maybe our Constitutional scholar-in-chief was simply exercising executive restraint and allowing the judicial branch to hear out the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and issue its ruling. But yesterday’s statement makes clear that, far from forgetting the reservation he visited in 2014, President Obama has the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Dakota Access pipeline, and environmental justice very much on his mind.


  1. Jason Sebern 2016-09-10 11:57

    Another wise decision by a wise man. Thank you President Obama.

  2. jerry 2016-09-10 12:05

    Instead of transferring the oil trough leaky pipelines that will fail, why not continue the process started in Dickinson, North Dakota Refine the oil near where it is produced and then ship it by rail to where it would need to go. The product would less volatile for the train ride and would produce jobs along the way. The end result would be the diesel and the gas produced as a finished product for distribution. More and better rail systems to deliver means more possibilities for a better infrastructure and less danger of a major pollution spill in our waters. Also, natural gas from flare offs could be shipped the same to localities

  3. mike from iowa 2016-09-10 12:54

    I’m guessing DAPL will not voluntarily stop work within 20 miles of that site and they prolly will be forced to hand out more pesos to wingnut candidates in this year’s election.

    Without a filibuster proof Dem majority in Congress, neither Obama/Clinton stands a chance of getting a single statutory change in laws.

  4. Mark Winegar 2016-09-11 08:55

    Is it right to thank President Obama but we also owe thanks to all the brave souls who stand up to protect our environment.

  5. Caroline 2016-09-11 11:34

    Just curious: what would an oil leak into the Missouri River mean to the quality of water used by Mid-Dakota Rural water systems?

  6. jerry 2016-09-11 11:44

    Caroline, Like everyplace else down river, the water would be contaminated. The loss of habitat, the loss of quality of water, the loss of the integrity of the entire system would be compromised. Some see this as an Indian problem in North Dakota, this is a real problem for all in the entire water usage system of the river. Imagine a whole lot of dead geese floating in the water, or salmon or walleye, this is for real on so many avenues. The PUC has shirked their duties as representatives for the state office they were elected to uphold.

  7. Tim 2016-09-11 12:31

    Jerry, just look at past decisions, the PUC doesn’t give a damn about us, they only care about big business and they prove it daily it seems.

  8. mike from iowa 2016-09-11 14:41

    Does anyone know if DAPL worked yesterday or today? Seems like they were saying they worked weekends when they bulldozed artifact site. Just curious.

  9. jerry 2016-09-11 22:12

    The media should ask the Chris Nelson the state of South Dakota’s contingency plan on what we will do for clean water when the pipe explodes in the river. Each water district should kind of want to know the plan when this happens and happen it will. How will the tub boats circle the spill? What?? you say there are no tub boats in the Oahe?? So, we are gonna just look at the sheen and then our belly buttons while ole Chris does the out the door shuffle. The guy has to go and so does the rest of the chum there.

  10. jerry 2016-09-11 22:12

    tug boats, geesh.

  11. jerry 2016-09-12 09:01

    As good an explanation of events as has been so far. This fight will be settled in North Dakota and we all should be grateful for it.

    The good news though, it seems the governor and his state there are as corrupt as our own, so we have that going for us, which is a good thing. We are still number 1 in the corruption department as crowned by the United States government, but it would now seem that North Dakota is catching up on the club house turn. We have the dead whistle blower in the EB5 so we will hard to overtake.

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