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Chiefs Declare Keystone XL Consultation Meeting Invalid, Walk Out on State Department Officials

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Politics and Democracy page.

Elders and chiefs of at least 10 sovereign nations walked out of a meeting with U.S. State Department officials in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Thursday May 16 in which the government was attempting to engage in tribal consultation over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Deeming the meeting "invalid," leaders of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association-attendees included the Southern Ponca of Oklahoma, Pawnee Nation, Nez Perce Nation, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Ihanktonwan Dakota Yankton Sioux, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Standing Rock Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe-said they would meet only with President Barack Obama to discuss the pipeline.

The Great Plains Tribal Chairman's Association is made up of the 16 tribal chairmen, presidents and chairpersons in North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska who have joined to defend treaty rights, according to the group. In January they along with other tribes signed the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred Against the Tar Sands. (Related: Tribal Members Sign Treaty Calling for an End to Alberta Oil Sands Development and Keystone XL)

Keystone XL would carry up to 800,000 barrels daily of viscous crude known as bitumen from the Alberta oil sands of Canada for 1,700 miles down to the Gulf of Mexico coast in Texas. Obama is slated to make a decision on the $7 billion project sometime this year, perhaps as early as the end of summer. (Related: U.S. Senate Endorses Keystone XL 62-37 in Symbolic, Non-Binding Vote)

The chiefs join the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which two weeks ago released its public comments on the pipeline's draft environmental assessment report, recommending that the Obama administration reject the pipeline proposal from TransCanada if certain concerns could not be adequately addressed. (Related: Fill Gaps in Keystone XL Draft Environment Report or Reject Pipeline, NCAI Tells Obama Administration)

The state department received more than a million public comments by the April 22 deadline, which was coincidentally Earth Day, most of them against the project. (Related: Anti-Keystone XL Tribal Members Urge Fellow Natives to Comment on Environmental Impact Statement)  
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