Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico were quick to react to the Sunday news that President Obama’s administration would not approve an easement that would allow the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to move forward in its current proposed route. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation said while the proposed path did not cross their land, it would have brought the oil pipeline too close to the tribe’s lone source of water. The fight over placement of the pipeline led to members of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and other supporters holding high-profile protests for months. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall praised the decision, which requires the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to consider alternate routes for this portion of the pipeline.
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall weighed in on the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, joining his fellow U.S. Senator from New Mexico, Martin Heinrich. The incoming vice-chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking the president to consider re-routing the pipeline and also said he was “disturbed by the increasingly aggressive and violent tactics that have been used against” protesters. Udall noted that he condemned the use of violence against protesters in a letter to Obama three months ago and said he appreciated Obama temporarily halting the project. Related: Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters
“[T]he violence at the protest site has continued, with law enforcement and private security forces using inexcusable means against peaceful demonstrators, including rubber bullets, attack dogs and even water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures,” Udall wrote. “Many of the protesters are from New Mexico Tribes, and one of those seriously injured was a Navajo woman from Arizona who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet.”
The Navajo Nation spans across large portions of Arizona and New Mexico, as well as part of Utah.
For the second time this month, a U.S. Senator from New Mexico addressed President Barack Obama regarding the growing contention in Standing Rock, North Dakota over an oil pipeline. This time Sen. Martin Heinrich criticized the Obama administration for allowing federal officials to close down the protesters’ campsite and asked that the federal government deescalate the situation. Related: Heinrich calls on Obama to move Dakota Access Pipeline
“In particular, I question the decision to close the area to demonstrators on December 5, 2016,” Heinrich wrote in a letter to the president Wednesday. “This arbitrary date is certain to escalate an already volatile situation and I would urge you to overturn this decision by the Corps of Engineers.”
Heinrich praised Obama for halting the controversial pipeline project after the senator raised his concerns for the safety of protesters earlier this year, but said he is still worried about the situation getting worse. “The brutality we’ve seen in recent days involving rubber bullets, tear gas, and water cannons, has increasingly put the health and lives of the demonstrators at real risk,” Heinrich wrote.
On Thanksgiving, U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich called on President Barack Obama to reroute the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline and condemned the response by police to protests. Native Americans and others have protested pipeline over recent weeks over a fear that it would imperil the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s only water source. The pipeline’s path was already moved once, from near Bismarck. Part of the reason was the risk to the city’s water supply. Update: Heinrich concerned over violence against Standing Rock protesters
“Today is Thanksgiving and I cannot help but reflect on our history in these United States and how often it has not lived up to the rosy picture of Pilgrims and Indians sharing a meal in friendly company that I saw in textbooks as a child,” Heinrich said in a statement.