A top Democratic lawmaker will spend Sunday in North Dakota with a Native American tribe in an effort to show “solidarity” with protesters fighting to prevent the construction of a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline.
U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona announced Friday that he will spend Sept. 11 with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. The group claims the $3.8 billion pipeline will damage sacred grounds and burial sites.
Grijalva’s stance might be a bit late. The Obama administration announced Friday that construction on the 1,200 mile pipeline would be halted until the government can determine the effects it will have on the environment.
The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced the pause in an area near the North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a major water resource for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the predecessor of the Great Sioux Nation.
Nevertheless, the Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member said his visit would be more celebratory than anything else.
“The announcement is a significant reversal of the DAPL construction process to date,” said Grijalva’s office. “Despite the federal government’s legal trust responsibility to ensure federally permitted projects do not threaten historically or culturally significant tribal places, the trust lands of tribal nations, or the waters that run through them, the Standing Rock Sioux were never consulted about the DAPL, which will run less than a mile from their reservation.”
Grijalva stepped directly into a whirlwind torrent of Dakota Access Pipeline news Friday, starting with news that the Standing Rock Sioux lost their fight to place an injunction on the energy company, and culminated with the government’s decision to temporarily halt construction.
Judge James Boasberg denied the motion for a preliminary injunction to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, arguing the Native American tribe could not show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground.
The tribe haggled with developers over whether the National Historic Preservation Act, which allows the government to preserve historical and archaeological sites, can and should be used to prevent the pipeline from possibly damaging sacred tribal artifacts.
The nearly 1,200-mile pipeline would be the first to shuttle Bakken shale from North Dakota directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast. It would also generate nearly $160 million worth of business for Illinois, North Dakota, among other communities nearby.
The Arizona lawmaker is a fervent supporter of President Barack Obama’s global warming agenda, as well as a die-hard opponent of the GOP’s traditional support for oil development.
Grijalva announced in March an intention to force universities to disclose any funding from energy companies going to research by global warming skeptics.
Grijalva’s request for “communications” of climate scientists sparked harsh rebukes from the science community. The American Meteorological Association, for one, said the investigation “sends a chilling message to all academic researchers.”
Grijalva joined California Democrat Rep. Raul Ruiz Thursday in pushing a federal watchdog agency to investigate how effective federal programs are at protecting tribal health and environmental quality.
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