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News Release

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe 

Following a Supreme Court victory last week in its lawsuit against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is preparing to host a meeting today among its own tribal officials, U.S. Army officials and other leaders from across the Great Sioux Nation.

According to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairwoman Janet Alkire, the stakeholders will discuss the embattled pipeline’s future, including its delayed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). “I am very excited about meeting alongside the other tribes of the Great Sioux Nation to address the Assistant Secretary of the Army Civil Works on Wednesday,” Alkire says. “It’s long overdue.”

Objections to Dakota Access pipeline from the tribe and its allies have routinely fallen on deaf ears at the government level. Tens of thousands of Native people and allies gathered at Standing Rock during 2016 and 2017 to protest Dakota Access pipeline after it was rerouted from its originally scheduled path north of Bismarck to the reservation’s doorstep. As one of his first acts in office, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order fast-tracking Dakota Access pipeline. Standing Rock then sued pipeline operator Energy Transfer, citing the National Environmental Policy Act.

Eventually, U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that a new Environmental Impact Statement would be required for Dakota Access pipeline — but he put the onus on the U.S. executive branch to shut down the pipeline's oil flow while the Environmental Impact Statement was produced. To date, the Biden Administration has declined to do so. Then, last week, Standing Rock got what it considered to be good news from the Supreme Court, which declined to hear Energy Transfer’s appeal seeking to eliminate the requirement for further environmental review.

Standing Rock officials say they expected the Army Corps of Engineers to release the Environmental Impact Statement for public feedback in February. Anticipating that release, Standing Rock, Oglala and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal leaders — citing concerns about Energy Resources Management, the firm tasked with preparing the Environmental Impact Statement — wrote a letter demanding an alternative Environmental Impact Statement with oversight from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Then, in January, Standing Rock withdrew as a cooperating agency from the environmental review process entirely.

Alkire released press statements expressing concern about a lack of transparency in the process, dangers from low water levels in Lake Oahe — a reservoir adjacent to her reservation, which the pipeline crosses beneath — and Dakota Access pipeline’s potentially inadequate emergency response plan.

Pending the opportunity to gather more feedback from tribes today, the Army Corps of Engineers still hasn't released its Environmental Impact Statement for public comment. Army officials reached out to Standing Rock and asked for the meeting, which will take place at Prairie Knights Casino on Standing Rock’s North Dakota side from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Public and press will not be allowed inside for the deliberations, but press will be permitted to ask questions after the meeting.

Representatives are expected to attend from the Oglala, Cheyenne River, Flandreau, Rosebud, Yankton, Lower Brule, Spirit Lake, and Standing Rock Sioux Tribes. All tribes of the Great Plains have been invited, as well as Treaty Council officials.

“The Department of the Army is taking the time to give Tribes an opportunity to voice their concerns, finally, and really listen,” Alkire says. “It’s important to me that all the Great Plains Tribes are invited to be a part of this conversation. Together, in unity, we are strong, and it’s not just Standing Rock that will be affected if an oil spill occurs. A catastrophic oil spill could pollute much of the nation’s drinking water. There’s no telling how vast the toxin spread of such a spill could be, potentially affecting other surrounding tribes and millions of people downstream.”

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