The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which entered into service in 2017 by Energy Transfer after months of protests by Native American Tribes, is the subject of a new initiative by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, et al., to re-examine the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for bias.
"Our participation in the EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) process and review of the initial draft reveals that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering Corps has fundamentally misunderstood the courts' directive and the requirements of the law," the tribes said in the letter addressed to Jaime Pinkham, acting assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
Further, the tribes are demanding that the Biden administration "bring in the U.S. Department of the Interior as a co-equal cooperating agency with appropriate expertise to assist the Corps in centering Tribal impacts and concerns which motivated this EIS in the first place."
Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the same firm that was tasked with conducting environmental impact statements for DAPL, Keystone XL and TransCanada pipelines, is a member of the American Petroleum Institute — an oil-industry association that previously backed DAPL operator Energy Transfer with an amicus brief in litigation concerning the pipeline. In addition to this conflict-of-interest, Tribal leaders noted that an early draft of the environmental impact statement is filled with errors, omissions, and misstatements.
The Chairmen of the various tribes said "“given ERM’s inherent bias, it is no wonder that the draft EIS largely ignores the last five years of history and the thousands of pages of detailed technical and cultural material shared by the Tribes.”
In July, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration flagged a list of safety regulations Energy Transfer had violated, raising additional concerns that the infrastructure — which continues to operate without a valid federal permit — could cause a major oil spill. Nevertheless, Energy Transfer recently made modifications doubling its capacity to transport oil.