WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama called Monday for Congress to probe the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying the project poses a “dangerous” and “unprecedented” threat to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The president also asked for an independent investigation into the environmental impact of the pipeline, which he says threatens sacred lands and the environment.
The Dakota Access is the largest pipeline in the United States that is currently under construction in North Dakota.
The Standing Rock tribe has long opposed the project, saying it will contaminate its water supply.
The tribe sued the Army Corps of Engineers in March to halt construction on the pipeline.
On Monday, the president called on Congress to open an investigation into whether the project is “critical infrastructure,” an area of federal jurisdiction that includes infrastructure projects.
The pipeline project has been under review by the Army for months, after environmental groups, tribal officials and some members of Congress raised concerns about possible spills, spills and other environmental issues.
Obama called for an investigation, saying that, “if necessary, the U.S. Department of Justice could file civil rights charges against those who are responsible for the project.”
Obama said he was “very disturbed” by the actions of some members and leaders of the Dakota Sioux tribe in trying to derail the project.
He said the tribe had been “working very closely with our law enforcement and military and we were doing everything we could to make sure that we were going to be successful.”
He said that the Army should have acted more responsibly and that the tribe should have consulted with federal agencies before the project was completed.
“There should be an investigation by the Department of the Army to determine what was going on and to see if there was any violation of the law,” Obama said.
The White House says Obama has directed his top officials to open a full investigation into Dakota Access, but did not provide details.
In a statement, the company said it was committed to “working with our federal partners and partners in Congress to make this project a success.”
The statement said the company was confident in the pipeline’s construction and safety.