American Indian tribe members refused to get involved in the year-long Dakota oil pipeline review, according to the head of the governmental office responsible for the process.
Julie Fedorchak, who serves as the chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, told National Public Radio in an interview Wednesday that Standing Rock Sioux did not participate in the nearly 30 hours of meetings held to determine the pipeline’s southern route.
“Standing Rock did not participate in our public hearings at any point throughout our 13 month review process,” Fedorchak said, lending more credibility to those suggesting the tribe opted out.
The tribe dragging its feet on the issue is odd considering it usually does engage with the commission on other issues, Fedorchak suggested. It’s also strange based on the shear amount of angst the project has received in recent months.
Fedorchak cited cultural surveys conducted before the pipeline received approval showing 91 of the 149 eligible sites contained stone features considered sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The pipeline, which is slated to shuttle more than 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from North Dakota to Illinois, was rerouted and modified to avoid all 91 of those areas, and all but nine of the other potentially eligible sites.
The modifications convinced the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction in September by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, citing the inability of the tribe to show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground.
Legal analysts are making similar statements as those made by Fedorchak.
Richard Epstein, a New York University law professor, suggested in a post at Forbes in September that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had plenty of time to consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers but refused – instead, the “Tribe boycotted the entire” consulting process, he wrote.
Epstein acts as a legal adviser to Energy Transfers Partners, the company responsible for constructing the nearly 1,200-mile long project.
The Army Corps of Engineers attempted more than a dozen times between 2014 and 2016, according to court documents, to discuss the DAPL route with the Standing Rock. The tribe either failed to respond to requests for consultation or dragged its feet during the process.
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