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Barragán, Ruiz, Grijalva, Merkley and Warren Urge President Biden to Shutdown Dakota Access Pipeline

By April 1, 2021 No Comments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      

April 1, 2021

 

 

Bicameral Letter to Biden Administration Precedes April 9th District Court Hearing

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressmembers Nanette Diaz Barragán, Raul Ruiz, Raúl Grijalva and Senators Jeff Merkley and Elizabeth Warren led 28 of their colleagues in asking President Joe Biden to order a shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline during its court-ordered environmental review.

 

The Congressmembers and Senators initially sent a letter to President Biden expressing their concerns on February 5th and are resending the letter today with additional support from their colleagues in Congress.

 

“By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries. This is a critical step towards righting the wrongs of the past and setting our nation on a path of environmental, climate, and social justice,” the members of Congress wrote.

 

The call for a shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) follows a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in January that upheld a March 2020 United States District Court decision that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Environmental Policy Act when it granted the easement for the pipeline to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River. The easement ignored the concerns of the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that an oil spill could disproportionately affect their drinking water, as well as hunting and fishing rights.

 

The letter also asked President Biden to meet with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other impacted tribes to hear to their concerns directly. Indigenous advocacy groups are rallying in front of the Army Corps of Engineers building today to protest proposed pipelines impacting their communities, including DAPL.

 

“As you consider how to proceed, we encourage you to meet with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other impacted Tribes to better understand how the DAPL affects their lands, treaty rights, and environmental priorities,” the members of Congress wrote.

 

The letter was signed by the following members of Congress: Nanette Diaz Barragán (Calif.), Raúl M. Grijalva (Ariz.), Raul Ruiz (Calif.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Jimmy Gomez (Calif.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Adriano Espaillat (N.Y.), James P. McGovern (Mass.), Cori Bush (Mo.), Grace Napolitano (Calif.), Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), Chellie Pingree (Maine), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (Ill.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Marie Newman (Ill.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), and Nydia M. Valázquez (N.Y.).

 

The letter was signed by the following Senators: Jeffrey A. Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), Edward J. Markey (Mass.), Cory Booker (N.J.), Alex Padilla (Calif.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.).

 

 

A PDF of today’s letter can be found here.

 

Full text of the letter is below:

 

 

April 1, 2021

 

President Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Biden:

 

Thank you for the bold early actions your administration has taken to prioritize climate action and environmental justice, including your announcement in January to withdraw permits for the Keystone XL pipeline. We urge you to build on this promising start by ordering a shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) while it undergoes a court-mandated environmental review.

 

In 2016, we witnessed egregious environmental racism as North Dakota law enforcement officials violently removed protestors from the path of DAPL, many of them from the nearby Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Fortunately, President Obama denied the pipeline an easement to cross a federal reservoir along the Missouri River, while requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This action was quickly undermined by President Trump, who upon taking office reversed course and granted the easement while ignoring the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

 

On January 26, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling upholding a March 2020 United States District Court decision that the USACE violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when it granted the easement. The USACE did not adequately consider the potential impacts of the pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, and did not consult with the tribe and other affected communities about those impacts. The tribe draws its water from the Missouri River, and rightfully fears an oil spill could disproportionately affect their drinking water, as well as hunting and fishing rights. The District Court postponed its hearing on the shutdown until April 9th to discuss its plans with the Administration.

 

In July of 2020, the District Court invalidated DAPL’s easement and ordered the pipeline shut down while the USACE prepares an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The federal appeals court has upheld this ruling that the pipeline is illegal and directed the government to make a decision on the pipeline promptly.

 

As you consider how to proceed, we encourage you to meet with members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other impacted Tribes to better understand how the DAPL affects their lands, treaty rights, and environmental priorities. By shutting down this illegal pipeline, you can continue to show your administration values the environment and the rights of Indigenous communities more than the profits of outdated fossil fuel industries. This is a critical step towards righting the wrongs of the past and setting our nation on a path of environmental, climate, and social justice.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

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Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington