WASHINGTON Oct 13 Former Democratic
presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and four other senators on
Thursday called on President Barack Obama to order a
comprehensive environmental review of a pipeline project that
has stirred widespread opposition from Native Americans and
After a U.S. appeals court on Sunday night denied a request
to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the senators
asked Obama to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to complete a
full environmental impact statement for a contested part of the
route that includes stronger tribal consultation.
"The project's current permits should be suspended and all
construction stopped until a complete environmental and cultural
review has been completed for the entire project," said the
letter by Sanders and Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Ed
Markey, Patrick Leahy and Benjamin Cardin.
In recent weeks, protests against the Dakota Access pipeline
led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota drew
international attention, prompting the U.S. government to
temporarily block its construction on federal land.
Tribal leaders say the pipeline will desecrate land and
pollute water, especially around the planned crossing through
Lake Oahe, a sacred site. Opposition to the pipeline has drawn
support from 200 Native American tribes.
On Tuesday, anti-pipeline activists in four states closed
pipeline valves to halt the flow of crude through arteries
transporting 15 percent of U.S. oil consumption..
When fully connected, the 1,100-mile (1,770 km) pipeline
would be the first to carry crude directly to the U.S. Gulf from
the Bakken shale, a vast oil formation in North Dakota, Montana
and parts of Canada.
The $3.7 billion project is being built by the Dakota Access
subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP,
which has vowed to complete construction.
"There must be a serious consideration of the full potential
climate impacts of this pipeline prior to the Army Corps of
Engineers approving any permits or easements for the Dakota
Access pipeline," the senators said.
Experts say that the full environmental review requested by
the senators could take several months.
The U.S. appeal court's ruling was the second time the
federal judiciary rejected the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's
request to halt construction of the pipeline. On Sept. 9, a U.S.
judge rejected a similar request.
(Reporting By Valerie Volcovici)