The American Indian tribe opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline threatened to sue President Donald Trump for violating its treaty rights after he signed orders approving the controversial oil project.
“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, told reporters after the news broke. He called the action “politically motivated.”
Standing Rock and and environmentalists believe the line’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
Trump’s Tuesday memo paves the way for construction on the the previously rejected project, which is expected to deliver nearly 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil per day to Illinois.
“At this time, the [Dakota Access Pipeline] is more than 90 percent complete across its entire route. Only a limited portion remains to be constructed,” the memo read. It also calls construction on “legally permitted” pipelines like the DAPL in the country’s “national interest.”
Standing Rock has argued in the past that the land is theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.The line’s route does not run through the tribe’s reservation, despite what environmentalists and tribe members claim.
The treaty was forged between the U.S. government and the Great Sioux Nation, not Standing Rock. Still, tribe members have challenged the treaty and others like it in court for not being honored.
Energy Transfer Partners, the company developing the pipeline, took a beating during the protests. The 1,172-mile-long DAPL is losing $20 million every day the project is delayed, an attorney representing Dakota Access told District Court for the District of Columbia in December.
Dakota Access bled nearly $500 million in lost profit during the time construction stopped until Trump’s executive order if the company’s estimate is extrapolated over a two-month period.
ETP meanwhile wants the court to acknowledge that the Army Corps took all necessary action to grant the company the easement in July, rendering moot any further need for easement approvals.
Trump’s executive order would essentially reset the Army Corps’ initial decision approving the pipeline. It would also allow the administration to rescind the Obama administration’s request to have a years-long environmental impact assessment conducted on the DAPL.
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