Ruiz, Grijalva Request Oversight Hearing to Discuss Tribal Consultation in Dakota Access Pipeline Development Process

September 13, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, following a visit to the proposed site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-3) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Raul Ruiz, M.D. (CA-36) called for a hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs to provide oversight as to whether or not federal agencies followed policies regarding preservation of sacred sites and meaningful tribal consultation for development on or near tribal land. Ranking Member Grijalva and Dr. Ruiz issued the following statements:

“Tribes have the right to self-determination and the right to have a say in decisions that impact their health, sacred lands, and cultural preservation. I am calling for an oversight hearing regarding federal agencies’ compliance with policies that require protection of sacred sites and meaningful tribal consultation prior to decisions that could put their health and environment in jeopardy. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe deserves the respect of due process,” said Dr. Ruiz.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t an isolated incident. Tribes all across the nation are fighting a similar fight to protect their sacred land from big companies thinking with their pocket books, not their hearts. We’ve been saying for a long time that our federal policies are outdated and need to be updated to make sure tribes are being consulted before construction begins. The system is broken and tribes aren’t getting the respect they deserve. We can’t continue to damage sacred land, overlook the importance of cultural preservation and put tribes health at risk by building near their main water source,” said Ranking Member Grijalva.

A copy of Grijalva and Ruiz’s letter is below. They have been pushing for greater oversight into federal policies regarding tribal land, including calling for an investigative report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. You can click here to learn more about Dr. Ruiz’s work on this issue.

September 13, 2016
The Honorable Rob Bishop                                                    The Honorable Don Young
Chairman, House Natural Resources                                     Chairman, House Subcommittee on
Committee                                                                               Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs
1324 Longworth HOB                                                            1324 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515                                                          Washington, DC 20515         
Dear Chairman Bishop and Chairman Young:
We write to request an oversight hearing in the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Alaska Native Affairs on whether the appropriate level of tribal consultation occurred prior to the approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), per federal policies and laws. Tribal consultation prior to agency action that may impact an American Indian/Alaska Native community is fundamental to a tribe’s sovereignty and self-determination, and we are concerned that the Army Corps of Engineers ignored serious concerns raised by the tribe and other federal agencies related to DAPL’s impact on both sacred sites and their water supply.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a proposed 1,168 mile-long pipeline that will transport crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. The pipeline is owned by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, LLC. The proposed route runs within one-half mile of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Tribe) Reservation, and travels through the Tribe’s ancestral homelands.
Concerns about the proposed pipeline route were raised by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP). These included a lack of consideration of the location of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation, inadequate planning for potential leaks and spills and their impact on downstream water supplies, a disproportionate impact on low income and communities of color, a lack of coordination with local tribes, and non-compliance with Executive Order 13175 mandating tribal consultation.
We are very concerned about potential impacts both to sacred sites along the selected route for the pipeline, as well as to the Tribe’s water source. Furthermore, we are disheartened to learn that meaningful consultation with the tribe concerning sacred sites and proposed mitigation plans has still not occurred. Therefore, we urge you to convene an oversight hearing as soon as possible to determine if additional legislative action may be necessary in this situation.
______________________________                                    ______________________________
Raúl M. Grijalva                                                                     Raul Ruiz, M.D.                     
Ranking Member                                                                     Ranking Member
House Committee on Natural Resources                                House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular
and Alaska Native Affairs