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Sanders: North Dakota Pipeline 'A Violation Of Rights'

Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has urged President Barack Obama to halt the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline, charging that it violates tribal treaty rights.

On Oct. 13, Sanders and four Democratic senators sent a letter to President Obama asking him to halt construction of the controversial pipeline until federal regulators conduct a more thorough assessment of its environmental and cultural impact on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, The Hill reports.

"We support the tribes along the pipeline route in their fight against the Dakota Access pipeline project," the letter said.

The Dakota Access oil pipeline would be a 1,170-mile pipeline that would span across four states and cost $3.8 billion.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has protested the pipeline, which would encroach within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, the water supply for their reservation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On Oct. 9, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of resuming construction of the pipeline. On Oct. 11, Energy Transfer Partners began resuming construction of the pipeline.

The same day, eight people were arrested in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and Washington state for attempting to close down other states' pipelines in a show of unity with the Dakota Access protesters.

In their letter, Sanders and his fellow senators asserted that the Army Corps did not closely examine whether or not the pipeline would have environmental effects on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or destroy sites of cultural importance to them.

“It is imperative that the [Army] Corps’ permitting process be transparent and include public notice and participation, formal and meaningful tribal consultation, and adequate environmental review,” the letter states. “until that occurs, construction of this project must be halted.”

Sanders’ letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dianne Feinstein of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Ben Cardin of Maryland.

The Dakota Access pipeline has become increasingly controversial, with county sheriffs complaining about protestors terrorizing local residents neighboring the protesters’ camp, The Washington Times reports.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has condemned any protesters who have acted out, stating “Any act of violence hurts our case and is not welcome here.”

Earthjustice, a non-profit law firm that represents the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has also urged President Obama to halt the construction of the pipeline.

“The court ruling includes an important acknowledgement that the Obama administration still has the power to deny key permits -- a reminder to us all of the important role we each need to play in asking President Obama to use his power to right these wrongs,” Earthjustice stated.

Sources: The Hill, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times / Photo Credit: Phil Roeder/Flickr

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