Wyden – Merkley Letter Ignores Consultation, Review Process, Reality
In a letter sent to President Obama, Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley disregard the over 400 individual meetings held between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Native American tribes regarding the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Furthermore they ignore the fact that despite multiple attempts to reach out to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, there were multiple occasions that Chairman Dave Archambault, or other representatives of the tribe, simply refused to participate in the process. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also did not participate in three separate, well publicized, public hearings on the project held by the North Dakota Public Services Commission.
Throughout the consultation and review process, three independent reviews found that the Dakota Access Pipeline would not significantly impact cultural sites. In fact, the pipeline was routed parallel to an existing pipeline, Northern Border, which had surveyed the area back in the 1980s and also effectively avoided cultural sites. Even if a cultural site was to be encountered, Dakota Access has a program in place to ensure the site is reported and treated with respect.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviewed this project for nearly two years, under the direction of three separate district commanders. All found in their 1,261 page Environmental Assessment that this project would have No Significant Impact and should be permitted to proceed. A failure to conduct a proper review does not accurately represent the two years of hard work by the men and women of the Corps of Engineers, highlighted in their review actions taken.
Finally, this letter fails to address the violent and dangerous acts of protesters and the threats to local law enforcement and the community. Actions including setting fires, slaughtering livestock, discharging firearms at law enforcement, burning a bridge, terrorizing journalists, and repeatedly trespassing on private property, have put residents, construction workers, and law enforcement officers at risk of significant injury or harm to property.