In a letter to President Barack Obama yesterday, five U.S. senators, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, urged the president to temporarily halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline to allow for a complete environmental and cultural review.
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Democratic senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dianne Feinstein of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Benjamin Cardin of Maryland.
The letter praised the administration’s decision to deny the authorization of construction on Army Corps-owned land and under Lake Oahe pending environmental considerations. The decision, announced back in September, also mentioned the need for future discussion about a need for national reforms to take tribe’s views into consideration when developing infrastructure projects.
However, the senators pushed the Obama administration to do more, citing opposition from both Native American tribes and “a groundswell of opposition” across the country.
“The pipeline’s construction is not only a violation of tribal treaty rights, but has the potential to cause more damage to sacred lands. Until there has been full and meaningful tribal consultation, all pipeline permits and easements should be revoked or denied,” the letter stated.
Impact on climate
The senators also highlighted the pipeline’s impact on the climate. Citing figures from Oil Change International, a research and advocacy organization, the letter noted that the pipeline would have the same impact on the climate as adding 21.4 million more cars or 30 new coal plants.
Pipeline in Iowa
The pipeline slashes diagonally across 18 counties in Iowa on its way from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.
Over the past few months, protesters have impeded construction at Iowa sites in Boone and Lee counties. Protesters camped outside the Lee County site, close to where the pipeline will travel under the Mississippi River, were evicted last week.