WASHINGTON (Gray DC) The Standing Rock Sioux tribe continues its fight to stop construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, traveling back to Washington D.C. on Thursday to speak before a forum of House Democrats.
The trip to Washington D.C. comes less than 48 hours after tribal chairman Dave Archambault II testified in Geneva, Switzerland at the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The testimony was an emotional plea from members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, sharing their experiences regarding the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to a panel of House Democrats.
"The Federal government has a moral and legally enforceable obligation to protect tribal treaties, land and resources under the Federal Trust Responsibility," said Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA)
Democrats on the House Natural Resources committee called on the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement. But this was not an official hearing and members placed the blame on their Republican counterparts for failing to schedule one.
"I wish that we were having an official hearing, a bipartisan hearing," said Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA). "Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of Republican colleagues that ask hard questions and stand up to big oil.”
Tribal chairman Dave Archambault II says he believes an official hearing will come by raising awareness.
“There's still this opportunity for the pipeline to go where we don't want it to go, and as that's there we are going to continue to do everything that we can," Archambault II said in an interview with Gray Television.
No North Dakota lawmakers were included in this forum. The entire delegation has pointed out that the pipeline was cited by state officials and should be handled entirely at the local level.
“I think the really bigger problem is that we are trying to apply global solutions to a state issue," Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said. "I don't think that's helpful. I think this is a very localized issue and should be discussed at a local level and then certainly can be expanded out.”
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) agrees, making a similar statement in an interview last week.
"I think the first thing to point out this pipeline was cited by state officials, the protest is on county jurisdiction, the encampment is obviously on Corps land," Sen. Heitkamp said. "When you look at this, this is not a congressional issue."
The battle over the Dakota Access Pipeline will continue in Washington D.C. The case will head to a federal appeals court October 5, 2016.