BISMARCK — The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe applauded the federal government Wednesday, Jan. 18, for beginning additional environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, while some North Dakota leaders called the process a delay tactic that will likely be rescinded by the Trump administration.
The Department of the Army published a notice Wednesday to begin gathering information to prepare an environmental impact statement for the pipeline crossing at Lake Oahe, the site of recent protests.
“The tribe is encouraged that the Department of the Army has made a firm commitment in the notice to evaluate the impacts of the pipeline crossing at Lake Oahe to the tribe’s treaty rights and water rights, and to explore alternative routes,” tribal leaders said in a statement.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said an environmental impact statement could take months or years and called on President-elect Trump to approve the four-state pipeline without delay.
“The Obama administration is again trying to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline project by changing the rules,” Hoeven said in a statement Wednesday. “The company has complied with all federal and state requirements and should now be allowed to complete the project.”
Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he expects the Trump administration will rescind the environmental impact statement process and issue an easement for the Lake Oahe crossing.
Cramer said he is hopeful Trump will take action on Dakota Access next week or shortly thereafter.
“I think it’ll be very quick,” Cramer said Wednesday.
The notice from the Army said it is accepting comments on the scope of the environmental impact statement through Feb. 20. The Army said it is seeking input on three concerns:
• Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River.
• Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the tribe’s water intakes and the tribe’s water, treaty fishing and hunting rights.
• Information on the extent and location of the tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe.
The Army also said it will hold public scoping meetings that will be publicized at least 15 days in advance.
Standing Rock leaders said the EIS should be more broad than currently proposed and should include the territory of the entire Great Sioux Nation, not just Lake Oahe and the northern border of the reservation.
Brian Kalk, a member of the North Dakota Public Service Commission which approved Dakota Access, said the project has already undergone environmental review and this additional step is “just rhetoric.”
“The EIS is just one more way to keep those that are against Dakota Access Pipeline stirred up and have them do things like they’ve been doing out there and it’s just time for it to stop,” Kalk said.