U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recently announced that she would introduce the Protect Our Drinking Water Act of 2016, which would require permission from federally recognized tribes and communities before projects affecting their water supply are approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.
“As we watch the events unfold in North Dakota, it has become clear that the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to a safe water supply are not being respected and we must protect the drinking water of every American,” Senator Boxer said. “I understand the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline was moved because it was considered a potential threat to the municipal water supply of Bismarck. The legislation would ensure that whether a project affects a tribe or a local community, the people whose water supply could be at risk must get equal consideration.
“The legislation is being prepared and will be introduced on Monday. It is critical that we send a message to the Standing Rock Sioux and all of its supporters, including thousands of veterans, that their voices are being heard.”
Senator Boxer’s legislation would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain written consent from federally recognized tribes and municipalities that operate a water system before granting an easement for pipelines that could threaten water supplies.
The proximity of the Dakota Access Pipeline to the municipal water supply of Bismarck was a consideration that resulted in the currently proposed route near Standing Rock. The new legislation would ensure that both tribes and municipalities have a voice in decisions that impact their water supply.