Judge Rules Tribal Treaties Don’t Apply To Oil Pipelines
An administrative law judge ruled that tribal treaties don’t give American Indians a say in choosing a route for the $2.6 billion dollar sandpiper oil pipeline. The Honor the Earth environmental group has argued in past months that historic treaties allow tribes to challenge the route because of the potential impact on their rights to hunt, fish, and gather on ceded territories.
Judge Eric Lipman, who is reviewing the process for the Public Utilities Commission, denied the group’s motion. In a seventh pre-hearing order, he ruled that, “The treaty does not forbid the creation of new rights of way on the land that was sold in 1855.” Lipman also ruled that Honor the Earth has not established that a yet-to-be authorized pipeline will absolutely impair their rights.
Frank Bibeau, a tribal attorney representing Honor the Earth, says that if the pipeline leaked it would ruin the precious lakes and aquifers in Northern Minnesota. Christine Davis, a spokeswoman for Enbridge, insists that putting in a new pipeline does not mean a leak will occur, and that safety is the number one priority. Davis also says that Enbridge is reviewing the order and will continue moving forward with the regulatory process.