North Dakota Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp are not letting the latest attempt to derail the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline go unnoticed.
The Obama administration Wednesday threatened to further delay the critical infrastructure project by ordering the Department of the Army to publish a Notice of Intent to require an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in the Federal Register. A move that sidesteps the professionals at the Army Corps of Engineers who have already concluded that the project will result in no significant impacts. In fact, the career civil servants at the Army Corps actually recommended that the easement be approved, but were silenced in the face of politics.
Hoeven, a republican, criticized the move, saying it amounted to changing the rules in the middle of a pre-established process. “The company has complied with all federal and state requirements, and should now be allowed to complete the project,” he said in a statement. “Since the current administration will not issue the final easement, the Trump administration should approve it without delay.”
He added that adjustments to the permitting process could be considered going forward, but should not be applied retroactively to a project that has already received approval. “Pipelines like the Dakota Access Pipeline can be built safely and protect both the tribe and everyone living downstream,” he said. “A new EIS will impose months, and perhaps years, of additional difficulty on the people who live and work in the pipeline area.”
Across the aisle, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp echoed Hoeven, saying that the administration’s “legally unprecedented” effort would only promote continued division and delay. “Removing decision-making from the U.S. Army Corps District Office and looking at an issue not properly before the Corps does not provide the certainty, or the security North Dakotans need or that the protesters are seeking,” she said.
“Whether you agree with this position or not, President-elect Trump has not minced words about his support for the project, or his intent to take quick action on the issue, and the outgoing Administration knows that this move only stand to further deepen the divides in our state.”
It should not go unnoticed that, even in a state of political polarization, democrats and republicans agree that construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline should be completed without further delay.