North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak recently confirmed that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe failed to participate in the state’s 13-month review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Speaking with NPR’s Morning Edition, Fedorchak noted that tribal representatives never attended any of the PSC’s public hearings despite personal outreach urging them to weigh in.
“The Standing Rock tribe did not participate in our public hearings or, quite honestly, at any point throughout our 13-month review process,” she said. “Here’s the situation, though, we notified the tribes. We had a personal call go out to the tribes urging them to participate, and we had a hearing 45 minutes from Cannonball.”
Fedorchak further noted that, despite the tribe’s absence, hundreds of others did engage in the process. When asked about the agency’s review of cultural resources, Fedorchak stressed that the entire route was carefully examined by certified archaeologists.
“The entire route of the pipeline was examined on foot by certified archaeologists. They identified more than 500 different cultural resources that needed to be protected, and the pipeline route was altered 140 times to avoid cultural resources. So those include Native American resources, but they also include other historic artifacts.”
Meanwhile, Fedorchak has also refuted claims that the pipeline was originally supposed to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck and not beneath Lake Oahe.
“The river crossing north of Bismarck was a proposed alternative considered by the [Dakota Access] company early in the routing process. This route was never included in the proposed route submitted to the PSC and therefore was never vetted or considered by us during our permitting process,” she said in an Oct. 27th statement. “The final permitted route follows an existing pipeline corridor that has been previously disturbed.”