“[T]he law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the president’s whim.”
By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 1-26-2017
The Standing Rock Sioux has responded to President Donald Trump’s executive order to push through the long-contested Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), calling the memorandum “utterly alarming” and warning that following through with it would violate federal law.
In a letter to President Donald Trump on Thursday, Standing Rock Sioux chairman David Archambault III noted that Trump did not accept a request to meet with him, and issued the order “without any consultation.”
Trump’s memorandum, issued January 24, instructs the Secretary of the Army to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite a review of “requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL,” including easements.
The memo also calls for the agency to reconsider conducting a full environmental assessment of the pipeline, an instruction Archambault calls “astonishing.”
The assessment is already underway after being ordered by President Barack Obama.
Withdrawing from the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is “arbitrary and without justification,” Archambault wrote. “[T]he law requires that changes in agency positions be backed by new circumstances or new evidence, not simply by the president’s whim.”
“It makes it even more difficult when one considers the close personal ties you and your associates have had with Energy Transfer Partners [EPT] and Sunoco,” he said, referring to the pipeline’s parent company and future operator, respectively.
Trump’s investment in the Texas-based EPT was revealed last year. His spokesperson has since claimed that the president sold off his stake in the company, but provided no evidence.
DAPL has been met with months of resistance from Native American water protectors and other activists who say it threatens Indigenous sovereignty and access to clean water.
“This disregard for tribal diplomatic relations and the potential for national repercussions is utterly alarming,” Archambault wrote, noting that the protests against the pipeline have garnered widespread support.
“Millions stand by us, and will continue to do so as we receive executive indication that infrastructure projects will be driven by corporate desire rather than American values,” he wrote.
Trump’s memorandum also vowed to push through the currently-defunct Keystone XL pipeline, which similarly faced nationwide opposition before being formally rejected by the Obama administration in November 2015.