U.S. native groups promised input on development as pipeline dispute looms

November 17, 2016 8:22 AM EST

Protesters gather in front of the Bank of North Dakota in Bismarck during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, U.S. November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith


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By Valerie Volcovici and Patrick Rucker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States plans to gather more input from native people as officials contemplate projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to a White House notice posted on Thursday that could delay the controversial plan.

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to "revise its regulations" to ensure its consultations with sovereign tribes are "confirmed by the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, executive orders, judicial decisions and presidential documents and policies."

The proposed change comes in the form of what is known as an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which states an agency's intention to issue a new regulation.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages many federal infrastructure projects, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

The pending rule is being contemplated in the final weeks of President Barack Obama's term when the administration is mulling whether or not to allow the Dakota Access crude pipeline.

President-elect Donald Trump is due to be sworn in on Jan. 20. Under federal law, the incoming president has authority to invalidate many last-minute decisions from an outgoing administration.

The notice, which was posted on the website of the U.S. Office Information and Regulatory Affairs, said the public will be able to comment on the proposal until Jan. 1, 2017.

The Obama administration has been in a quandary over whether to issue a permit to allow the completion of the final leg of the pipeline.

Demonstrators fanned out across North America on Tuesday to demand that the U.S. government either halt or reroute the pipeline, while Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the controversial project, asked a federal court for permission to complete it.

(Additional reporting by Ethan Lou in New York; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates)



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