A pair of Democratic senators are setting their sights on the agency responsible for approving construction on the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Sens. Tom Carper of Delaware and Maria Cantwell of Washington aim to hold the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers responsible for approving DAPL without explaining the process.
The two senators want full documentation of the process, including any communications the Corps had with the Trump administration, according to a letter they sent Thursday to Army Corps Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite.
“We sorely lack an understanding of the Corps’ efforts to make sure that Energy Transfer Partners complies with even the most fundamental environmental, safety and mitigation conditions of its easement and permits as it undertakes project-related construction activities,” the letter states.
The senators were referring to the Corps’ move to grant a final easement in February for the multi-billion dollar oil project, which needed a permit to tunnel under Lake Oahe, an important source of water for Standing Rock Sioux, one of the Dakota tribes battling the pipeline in courts.
Chase Iron Eyes, legal-council for Standing Rock, championed Carper and Cantwell’s letter and suggested it could expose the extent to which the Trump administration actively pushed the process.
“The documents requested by the Senators could show that the Trump Administration’s fast-tracking of the pipeline was politically motivated — and thus a clear violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” he said in a press statement.
The nearly 1,200-mile line, once completed, will shuttle crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale region to Illinois. The tribe has fought a vicious battle against the project, arguing the pipeline could poison its drinking water.
Carper has a complicated relationship with anti-pipeline activists.
He opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline, even though he approved the project in 2014 when Congress passed its approval. Like DAPL, Keystone XL received fierce opposition from activists who believe the line would create environmental damage. (RELATED: Democrat Says He Changed Position On Keystone Because Of Broken GOP Promises)
The Delaware Democrat changed his mind, because Republican lawmakers did not follow through on promises in the intervening years to support green energy. Carper told reporters his support was directly predicated on various Republican promises to support geothermal energy and wind power.
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