Washington (January 18, 2024) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) joined Senator Jeff Merkley and Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-07) in leading colleagues in a bicameral letter to the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Corps) expressing their concerns with the agency’s climate analysis in the court-ordered Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The lawmakers’ letter calls to light problems with insufficient climate analysis and lack of transparency regarding environmental impacts of the DAPL, specifically spotlighting how the Corps’ policies limit the ability of the environmental justice community of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to protect itself in the event of an oil spill.

“The Corps' climate analysis in the DEIS systematically underestimates the climate impacts of DAPL,” the lawmakers write. “It is especially troubling that the Corps ignores the pipeline's climate impacts, including downstream emissions, because the Corps claims the oil would be transported through other means or extracted from a different region if the pipeline were shut down. Simply assuming away the no-action alternative by saying limiting fossil fuel supply would not affect emissions ignores a robust and growing body of literature, and it is not acceptable.”

As it stands currently, the DEIS relies on outdated climate projections, does not report climate impacts beyond 2050, and uses flawed greenhouse gas and social cost of carbon calculations.

“In the Final EIS, the Corps should account for both upstream and downstream emissions by evaluating climate impacts from the project, consider the impacts of climate change on DAPL, quantify the emissions from the project, and recalculate the social cost of carbon and GHG estimates to include the project's complete lifecycle emissions,” the lawmakers urge.

Aside from the climate impacts the DEIS fails to account for, the lawmakers expressed concern about the long history of limited transparency the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has experienced from the Corps and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHSMA). The Corps and PHMSA are redacting documents that underpin the DEIS.

“It is impossible for the Tribe and the broader public to draft substantive comments on the DEIS when the supporting justification remains undisclosed. If the public is to provide substantive comment on a DEIS, the Corps must find a way to provide access to the underlying information,” the lawmakers write.

The Tribe is still waiting to receive unredacted versions of documents that detail potential pipeline spills and provide information essential to the creation of emergency plans needed to prepare an adequate spill response plan.

“As federal agencies, you have a trust responsibility to not only consult with Tribes but to protect and support Tribal lands, assets, and resources – a responsibility enshrined in countless treaties. Tribal consultation is paramount in recognizing Tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” the letter continues.

Senator Merkley has been a long time voice and advocate sounding the alarm on the justice and environmental harms the Dakota Access pipeline creates. Last month, Merkley joined advocates and leaders of the Standing rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes to call on the Biden Administration to shut this pipeline down.

"In our Lakota culture, water is considered our first medicine. Protecting our water is a cultural imperative. That is why we need the information being hidden from us by the Corps of Engineers - in order to protect our water, today, and for future generations,” said Doug Crow Ghost, Director, Standing Rock Department of Water Resources.

Joining Senators Markey and Merkley and Representative Grijalva on this letter are Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and 26 other House members.

This letter is endorsed by NRDC, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, Center for Biological Diversity, Food and Water Watch, Earthjustice, Oil Change International, Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, and Elected Officials to Protect America.

Full text of the letter can be found here.