Lakota People's Law Project
The North Dakota Public Service Commission announced today that it will hold a public hearing around a proposed expansion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The hearing has been set for 9 a.m. on Nov. 13 at the Emmons County Courthouse.
There had been some question as to whether the public—including leadership from the Lakota nations in proximity or downstream from the pipeline—would have a chance to weigh in. Today's decision by the Commission should provide that opportunity.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe recently took action to intervene in the process, calling for the public hearing. More than 19,000 letters to the Commission from concerned citizens backed the tribe's call.
The proposed changes to Dakota Access Pipeline, including the addition of new pumping stations, could nearly double the pipeline's flow, from 500,000 barrels daily to 1.1 million.
The Lakota People’s Law Project said, “The hearing is a good step in the right direction. The process must be fully transparent, the public must be heard, and tribal concerns about the safety of sacred lands and water must be properly addressed. We look forward to making sure those concerns are voiced in detail at the hearing, and it is our hope that the commission will use its authority to say no to the proposed expansion and prevent further danger to the environment we share.”
Further comment from tribal leaders should be available in the coming hours and days.
Prior statements from the tribal leaders on the necessity of the hearing:
“My main concern with Dakota Access Pipeline is that they've basically disregarded Indian input,” stated Rodney Bordeaux, President of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, located downstream from Standing Rock. “The water comes down through here, our territory, so we have to make sure that the water is clean and stays clean.”
“Now we have a situation where it's basically a different pipeline,” said Chase Iron Eyes, who serves as lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project and public relations director for Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner. “They’re trying to pretend like they don’t owe us legal and regulatory oversight. It’s time to stand again with Standing Rock.”
Standing Rock Tribal Councilman Charles Walker: “This isn’t benefiting Standing Rock, our brother and sister tribes just south of us, and it’s not even benefiting the American people. It’s going towards corporations.”
Oglala Sioux Tribe President Julian Bear Runner said, “We have to hold the United States government accountable, and we have to assert our authority,” he said. “We need to assert our sovereignty, and that's what the government needs to expect every time they come to us.”
Cheyenne River Sioux Chairman Harold Frazier expressed serious safety concerns about any increase to the pipeline’s oil flow. “We don't know if the pipeline is capable of handling [it], and I haven't seen any documents to justify that.”
The Lakota People's Law Project is a division of 501(c)(3) nonprofit law and policy center, the Romero Institute.