Washington, D.C. – President Obama should take concrete steps to reduce the tensions at the Dakota Access Pipeline, argued Representatives Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and 21 members of Congress today in a letter to the White House. The lawmakers recommend that the federal government deny the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe, deploy observers to ensure water protectors and journalists are safe and their rights are upheld, and urge the state of North Dakota to stand down from its escalation of the use of force. The letter follows today’s announcement by the Army Corps of Engineers that the agency will continue consultations with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe before making a final decision on the fate of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
“The EMAC is intended to help aid the victims of natural disasters — not to help suppress our Constitutionally protected right to peacefully assemble,” Rep. Grijalva said. “Its use in this way, and the escalating law enforcement and National Guard presence in response to unarmed demonstrations, betrays our values as a nation and aids a private corporation whose pipeline threatens Native American burial and sacred sites, and clean drinking water.
“The Army Corps is right to continue consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux – these consultations cannot succeed in the current atmosphere. Justice Department observers should be sent to the area without delay to ensure that this badly needed dialogue – which should have started much sooner – is not marred by civil rights abuses occurring just down the road.”
“The Dakota Access Pipeline has been a call to action for those who believe in protecting the climate and tribal lands and rights,” said Rep. Huffman. “Fortunately, President Obama can immediately ease this conflict by prohibiting the easement of the pipeline and sending observers from the Department of Justice to protect civil rights. In the coming months, President-elect Trump – who has personally invested in this pipeline company – will undoubtedly signal an oil and gas industry takeover of the White House. This will be one of the many battles we must fight and we must stand together to protect the environment, sacred tribal lands, freedom of the press, and the right to peaceful assembly.”
The signatories on the letter along with Congressman Grijalva and Huffman are Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), John Conyers (D-MI), Sam Farr (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Barbara Lee (D-CA), John Lewis (D-GA), Ted W. Lieu (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL).
A copy of the letter is available here.