BISMARCK, ND – The Chief of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is asking a federal agency overseeing the environmental review of the Dakota Access pipeline to sever ties with a contractor performing the analysis, citing a conflict of interest.
President Mike Faith and other tribal chiefs fighting the pipeline sent a letter Wednesday to a senior US Army Corps of Engineers official, questioning Environmental Resources Management, the company carrying out the review, and its links with the oil industry, reported the Bismarck Tribune. .
One of the tribes’ concerns is that the London-based company is a member of the American Petroleum Institute, a trade group that lobbies for the oil industry and has submitted court cases supporting Dakota Access.
The tribes also cite the testimony of an environmental resource management employee to South Dakota regulators in 2015. After reviewing the proposed pipeline, the employee concluded that it “is not likely to constitute a threat of serious injury to the environment ”.
“Essentially, ERM is an agent of the DAPL, rather than a neutral party,” reads the letter from the tribes to Jaime Pinkham, the military’s acting deputy secretary for civil works.
Tribes say the Corps’ selection of the company “compromises” the integrity of the environmental review process and they want it to start over.
The Corps of Engineers and Environmental Resource Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
The pipeline underwent a less stringent environmental review overseen by the Corps before the agency issued its first permit in 2017. The pipeline operator Energy Transfer maintains that the review was sufficient.
Dakota Access has the capacity to transport up to two-thirds of North Dakota’s daily oil production from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois.
The pipeline has been in service since June 2017.