By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
President Donald Trump issued two executive memorandums on Tuesday, Jan. 24 paving the way for the continued construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines (DAPL). The DAPL project, which is located very near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, has been fought vehemently by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe which has been joined by many tribes throughout Indian Country including the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the members of USET (United South and Eastern Tribes).
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II, said in a statement on Tuesday, “We are not opposed to energy independence. We are opposed to reckless and politically-motivated development projects, like DAPL, that ignore our treaty rights and risk our water. Creating a second Flint (Mich.) does not make American great again.”
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as a whole, released the following statement on their official website, “Today, Trump announced an executive order on DAPL. It not only violates the law, but it violates tribal treaties. Nothing will deter us from our fight for clean water. We will be taking legal action and will take this fight head on. We urge you to fight and stand tall beside us.”
The memo issued by President Trump stated, “This approximately 1,100-mile pipeline is designed to carry approximately 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to oil markets in the United States. At this time, the DAPL is more than 90 percent complete across its entire route. Only a limited portion remains to be constructed. I believe that construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest.”
According to information from the U.S. Army, the pipeline, which is being constructed by Energy Transfer Partners, is 30 inches in diameter would most likely transport around 470,000 barrels of oil per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels.
The memo also directs the Secretary of the Army to instruct the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “consider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, prior reviews and determinations, including the Environmental Assessment issued in July 2016 for the DAPL, as satisfying all applicable requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act”.
It has yet to be determined how this portion of the memo will stand as a notice of intent to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) was issued in the federal register on Wednesday, Jan. 18, two days before President Trump’s inauguration. The EIS is “in connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s request to grant an easement to cross Lake Oahe, which is on the Missouri River and owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”
In December 2016, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers refused to grant an easement in the project. “Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Jo-Ellen Darcy, U.S. Army’s Assistant Secretary, said in a statement on Dec. 4, 2016. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”
The same day President Trump signed the executive order on the Dakota Access Pipeline, he signed one reviving the Keystone XL Pipeline. That project died in November 2015 when then-Secretary of State John Kerry released a determination denying a permit to TransCanada for the pipeline. In that determination, he outlined several keys in his decision to deny including: “The proposed project has a negligible impact on our energy security. The proposed project would not lead to lower gas prices for American consumers. The project project’s long-term contribution to our economy would be marginal. The proposed project raises a range of concerns about the impact on local communities, water supplies, and cultural heritage sites. The proposed project would facilitate transportation into our country of a particularly dirty source of fuel.”
In his Jan. 24 memorandum regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, President Trump stated, “I hereby invite TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, L.P. (TransCanda), to promptly re-submit its application to the Department of State for a Presidential permit for the construction and operation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a major pipeline for the importation of petroleum from Canada to the United States.”
The memorandum directs the Secretary of the Army, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Secretary of the Interior, the Directors of the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to “review and approve as warranted, in an expedited manner, requests for approvals related to the Keystone XL Pipeline”.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is one of hundreds of federally-recognized tribes across Indian Country to adopt formal support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In early September 2016, Tribal Council passed a resolution, submitted by Vice Chief Richard G. Sneed, for the EBCI to donate $50,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for use with their legal battles on the issue.
A request for comment to Energy Transfer Partners was not returned by press time.