A month after a White House announcement to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a Senate bill that would reverse some of the project’s most controversial aspects has been reintroduced by Democrats, and is now gaining support from some Republicans.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is expected to hold a hearing Tuesday on Senate Bill 1512, which would direct federal agencies to reevaluate the project in light of recent news about its environmental impacts.
The White House’s announcement that it was scrapping its Dakota Access project Wednesday night came amid mounting pressure from environmentalists and others, including Native American tribes, who say the pipeline threatens sacred burial grounds, the environment and water resources.
The House voted Wednesday to halt work on the $3.8 billion project, which has been the subject of several legal challenges and an ongoing environmental review.
It also halted a second phase of construction, which began in July.
Environmentalists say that the pipeline’s proposed route would cross land sacred to many tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which say the $2.8-billion project threatens their cultural sites and water sources.
At the same time, the Obama administration has said it supports a future pipeline route that crosses into the Missouri River, which is also sacred to the Sioux and other tribes.
The project also includes a pipeline to carry natural gas to an industrial facility in South Dakota, where the pipeline would be built.
“Today’s news is another step in our fight to protect the Missouri and our water and our lands,” Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a statement.
“I am proud to have worked with my colleagues on the Environment and Water Appropriations Subcommittee to pass the Senate bill today, which sends a clear signal to the White House: we will no longer let them build on sacred land.”
Schatz’s bill would require federal agencies that receive federal funding to review their actions in light.
The panel would also require federal departments to notify the public of any changes that have been made to the pipeline project.
It’s not clear how many Republicans will join the bill.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., has expressed concern about the pipeline, which he has said would threaten the Missouri river, which was designated as a national monument in January.
He has also voiced support for the Standing American Indian tribe’s claim that the Missouri is the “river that gave rise to our nation.”
Inhofe is scheduled to vote on the bill in the Senate on Wednesday.
A similar bill was approved by the House last month and has gained bipartisan support.
It’s not expected to get a hearing until after Thanksgiving.
The Senate’s bill, however, does not include language that would require any agency to consider the pipeline.
It remains unclear how much impact the Senate’s proposal will have on the Obama-era pipeline, despite its lack of an Environmental Protection Agency review.
The White House has said the decision was made to cancel the project “to allow for an orderly, cost-effective and fair project re-review.”
The president announced the decision Wednesday, calling the Dakota pipeline a “critical lifeline for American jobs.”
It would have cut crude oil shipments from North Dakota to Illinois and to South Dakota and South Dakota would have been the largest source of crude oil for Illinois, the president said.
Obama said he also ordered the EPA to reconsider its review of the Dakota project, and called on the department to provide more detailed information to Congress and the public.
Sen. David Vitter, R, La., the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, is sponsoring the Senate version of the bill, which passed the Environment Committee earlier this month.
He said he has spoken to many tribal leaders and has seen first-hand the impact the pipeline is having on their lands and cultural sites.
“The pipeline threatens a number of important sites that I care deeply about,” Vitter said in the statement.
“I’m proud that I’ve introduced this legislation to protect Native American sites and sacred burial sites, as well as our environment and the environment on the other side of the Missouri.
Vitter said he was glad to have bipartisan support on the issue, but was concerned about what he called the administration’s rush to approve the project, despite the ongoing legal challenges.
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R of Kansas, is also sponsoring the bill as is Sen. Rob Portman, R.T., and Sen. Jeff Flake, R.-Ariz.
Vitter and Portman have both said they would work with their colleagues in the House to find ways to prevent the Dakota from becoming an even bigger headache for the administration.