Hon. Christopher D. Coursen, a Washington DC based lawyer and former chief counsel of the Communications Subcommittee, opined on the Dakota Access pipeline and stresses the need for the rule of law.
Accurately, Coursen points out the fact that over the past two years, Dakota Access has followed the letter of the law to a tee. According to Coursen, Dakota Access officials “were involved in nearly 560 meetings with local officials and community leaders to ensure the safest and least disruptive route for the pipeline. It was carefully routed almost entirely on private land…After this process and review, the Corps approved all the necessary permits and approvals that were required for the waterway crossings. The Corps strictly adhered to multiple federal laws and regulations, including the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.”
Despite this, Coursen argues, opponents claimed the project did not follow the correct processes. It is well documented that their attempts to legally delay the project, failed consistently, so their pleas went elsewhere.
According to Coursen, “protesters turned to some members of Congress to urge the Obama administration to ignore the law and halt construction of the pipeline through Executive action. President Obama not only bowed to the pressure from those members and the activists opposing the pipeline, he said that his administration was looking at ways to reroute the Dakota Access Pipeline to accommodate the concerns of “Native Americans”, i.e., the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.”
Coursen continues by expressing his disbelief. “This extraordinary development and Presidential intervention has alarmed developers, legal experts, and court scholars who know the importance of upholding the rule of law, and see this action as directly flaunting that sacred principle,” he writes.
Coursen could not be more accurate in his critique. The Dakota Access protest has degraded the rule of law and politicized a fully approved project. The entire situation marks a concerning incident for the American legal system.