WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, the incoming vice chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, issued the following statement on the decision by the Army Corps of Engineers to reject the current route for the Dakota Access Pipeline and explore alternatives:
“I appreciate the president and the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision today to deny an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing under Lake Oahe in North Dakota and to explore alternate routes. Over the last seven months, thousands of people, including Indian nations from New Mexico and across North America, have demonstrated their deep concern about the lack of consultation by the federal government and the potential environmental hazard this pipeline poses for the water. They have stood up for their rights despite harsh weather and the use of inexcusable violence against them.
“All New Mexicans know that water is life, and throughout our history we have seen environmental injustices done time and again to Native people. That is one reason many New Mexicans are among the protesters at Standing Rock. The Army Corps of Engineers is right — there is much more work to be done to consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ensure the water is protected. Exploring alternative routes with a full Environmental Impact Statement, while continuing the ongoing discussions with the Tribe, is the right step to take.”
Udall has twice condemned the violence at Standing Rock. Three months ago, he called for the Obama administration to protect the protesters and respect their concerns about water safety. Last week, he again wrote to the president, asking him to do everything possible to prevent further violence, including re-routing the pipeline.