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The UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has backed a claim by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that it should have a say in the construction of the US$3.7-billion Dakota Access pipeline, which the Native American tribe fears will pollute its drinking water and affect sacred sites in their territory.
The AP quotes a member of the forum, Dalee Dorough, as saying that the Standing Rock tribe has not been consulted on the project, which represents a violation of the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Dakota Access pipeline, slated to transport between 470,000 and 570,000 barrels of crude daily from North Dakota’s Bakken shale play to Illinois, has attracted a lot of protests. It will pass the Missouri River in the lands of the Standing Rock tribe, which is their main source of drinking water.
Earlier this month the tribe filed a complaint in court against the project, saying it will harm the environment, threaten the tribe’s well-being, and damage sites of historical and cultural significance. The tribe also said in its complaint that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not conduct a proper review of the pipeline project’s impact on the environment and the above mentioned sites. The case is being reviewed by a federal judge in Washington, and a ruling is expected by next Thursday.
The issue has received attention by Amnesty International, and some 30 environmental groups are backing the protests and have urged President Obama to stop the project, as he did with Keystone XL, where pressure from environmentalists tipped the scales against the pipeline.
On Tuesday, media reported that another eight Native American tribes have joined the Sioux’s fight against the pipeline. The eight tribes are all from the state of Washington, and one of them earlier this year scored a victory against a potentially harmful project: the Cherry point bulk-shipping terminal, which would have been the largest coal port in the U.S.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.