Sat, Nov 19, 2016 - Page 7 News List

Native groups promised input on US development

Reuters, WASHINGTON

The US plans to gather more input from native people as officials contemplate projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a White House notice posted on Thursday that could delay the controversial plan.

The US Army Corps of Engineers plans to “revise its regulations” to ensure its consultations with sovereign tribes are “confirmed by the US Constitution, treaties, statutes, executive orders, judicial decisions and presidential documents and policies.”

The proposed change comes in the form of what is known as an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which states an agency’s intention to issue a new regulation.

The Corps, which manages many federal infrastructure projects, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The pending rule is being contemplated in the final weeks of US President Barack Obama’s term when the administration is mulling whether to allow the Dakota Access crude pipeline.

President-elect Donald Trump is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20.

Under federal law, the incoming president has authority to invalidate many last-minute decisions from an outgoing administration.

The notice, which was posted on the Web site of the US Office Information and Regulatory Affairs, said the public will be able to comment on the proposal until Jan. 1.

The Obama administration has been in a quandary over whether to issue a permit to allow the completion of the final leg of the pipeline.

Demonstrators fanned out across North America on Tuesday to demand that the US government either halt or reroute the pipeline, while Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial project, asked a federal court for permission to complete it.

“Obama is going to try and effectively block infrastructure from ever getting through the permitting process for new development for the rest of his term,” said William Scherman, head of the energy, regulatory and litigation Group at law firm Gibson Dunn.

Dakota Access, halted by the federal government in September after protests, has drawn opposition from the Native American Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmentalists who say it could pollute water supplies and destroy sacred historic tribal sites.

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