In a historic decision the Department of Justice, Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior overrode the decision of the District Court today by issuing statement that denies construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on federal land.
This decision was vital in protecting further destruction of tribal land, water, and burial grounds that are currently being upset due to bulldozing and digging by Energy Transfer Partners in the area of Lake Oahe.
Standing Rock Sioux Tribes have gathered with over 100 national Native American tribes at Sacred Heart Campground to protest the DAPL peacefully. Attention to the issues has grown since protests became violent last Saturday when security from Energy Transfer released attack dogs into the crowd and pepper sprayed more than a dozen protesters.
The three departments put out a statement today covering the halt of construction and the belief that Native American Tribes are not being included sufficiently in decisions that could gravely affect their community. This is the joint statement put out moments after the Judge’s orders were released:
“We appreciate the District Court’s opinion on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act. However, important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain. Therefore, the Department of the Army, the Department of Justice, and the Department of the Interior will take the following steps.
The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects. Therefore, this fall, we will invite tribes to formal, government-to-government consultations on two questions: (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.
Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely. We urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence. Of course, anyone who commits violent or destructive acts may face criminal sanctions from federal, tribal, state, or local authorities. The Departments of Justice and the Interior will continue to deploy resources to North Dakota to help state, local, and tribal authorities, and the communities they serve, better communicate, defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety.
In recent days, we have seen thousands of demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
This statement amongst scores of video recordings proves that the Native American tribes have assembled in peace and solidarity despite their Sheriff and Governor’s attempt to present them in a bad light. No word has been released on whether the National Guard will continue to show presence at the camp site but this decision is a huge step forward for the tribe and the people of North Dakota.
Here is amateur video taken of the Saturday protest that sparked National Guard to be called in.