Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Dear President Obama,
Your rejection of the Keystone Pipeline was truly historic, and we again commend you for that bold act of foresight and leadership. Your decision sent a strong statement about the importance of protecting land, water and property rights. It also conveyed the message that climate change is a clear and present danger demanding America’s full commitment to ending our reliance on fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Again, we thank you.
With that frame of reference, we ask you in the strongest possible terms to exert the same clarion leadership with regards to the proposed Bakken Pipeline. Over the past twenty months farmers, ranchers, landowners, tribal leaders, property-rights advocates, environmentalists, attorneys, local elected officials and climate activists in Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and Illinois have done everything possible to stop Dakota Access from building the pipeline.
In Iowa on March 10, despite overwhelming public opposition to the use of eminent domain for a private company (74% in a poll last year), and despite eroding public support for the pipeline itself (support dropped from 57% in 2015 to 47% in a recent poll), the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) issued Dakota Access a permit to build the pipeline, granting it the authority to use eminent domain. But that permit came with six conditions that Dakota Access had to meet before it could begin construction.
On April 9, the IUB determined that those conditions had been met, but made it clear that Dakota Access could not begin construction until the Army Corps of Engineers completes work on “issues that include endangered species, environmental issues, cultural resources and historical preservation.”
Two critical items are missing from the Corps’ intended course of action:
(1) Failure to properly consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on the pipeline’s impacts; and
(2) A comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that includes the pipeline’s impact on climate change. [Bakken pipeline set to get a green light, Des Moines Register, April 9, 2016]
Regarding the failure to properly consult, as mandated by section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), revised regulations 36 CFR Part 800, the Corps is mandated to initiate consultation with tribes whose historic properties may be affected by the pipeline route. This includes consulting and coordinating with the aforementioned tribes on the identification of historic and tribal properties that may be adversely affected by pipeline construction and route. This entire process has not occurred properly.
Regarding the Environmental Impact Statement, letters to the Corps from the Environmental Protection Agency on March 11, Department of Interior on March 29, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on March 15, all make it clear that the Corps’ efforts have fallen short.
Specifically, the Department of Interior’s letter to the Corps requests an “EIS to fully evaluate the potential impacts of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.” We concur.
A full Environmental Impact Statement, that is comprehensive to include climate change and cultural resources, is warranted for the entire 1134-mile pipeline route. We respectfully request that you and your Administration make clear to the Corps that nothing less than a full EIS is demanded and expected.
Again, thank you for your strong leadership on renewable energy, climate change and a range of pressing environmental concerns. We are confident that your voice in this matter will further define your legacy as a President who acted with great foresight not just on the Keystone XL Pipeline but on the Bakken Pipeline as well.
Ed Fallon, Director, Bold Iowa
735 19th Street, Des Moines, IA 50314
Jane Kleeb, Director, Bold Nebraska and Bold Alliance
1010 North Denver Ave, Hastings, NE 68901
Dallas Goldtooth, Coordinator, Indigenous Environmental Network
PO Box 485, Bemidji, MN 56619
Frank James, Director, Dakota Rural Action
P.O. Box 549, Brookings, SD 57006