In March, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, alleging the agency violated its constitutional authority to protect the water supply of the Standing Sioux Reservation and its environment by denying its use to oil and gas companies.
On April 6, a judge ordered the agency to release an environmental impact statement, but that ruling was delayed.
Now, with less than a month to go before the deadline for releasing the report, the U:S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has announced it will hear arguments on the matter on May 3.
“The case will be decided in a way that is not partisan and is not about partisan politics,” Judge Michael R. McLeod said in a May 2 hearing.
“It is about protecting our water supply and our future.”
In a statement, the tribe called the delay “outrageous and unreasonable.”
In response, a coalition of environmental organizations including Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities filed a motion asking McLeod to delay the hearing until the tribes request is denied.
The plaintiffs argued the agency’s denial of the Sioux Tribe’s request was an abuse of power, and they said the delay would allow the court to weigh in on the agency “to determine whether the Army Corps has acted with the necessary level of care and caution to protect its water resources and its sacred sites.”
“This is a clear example of the Trump administration’s disregard for American water,” said Michael Brune, director of the Center of Indigenous and Tribal Law at Harvard Law School.
“This delay is unnecessary, as the court is already considering the Sioux Nation’s request for relief.”
The tribe has been working to secure the release of the report since December 2016, when the agency initially refused to release it to them.
That request was later denied.
In response to the ruling, the Army told the New York Times that it would “review the court’s ruling and take further steps in accordance with law.”
The court has previously declined to intervene in cases brought by the Trump and Trump administration.
The Trump administration, which is in the midst of an environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline, has repeatedly accused the Standing Lakota Tribe of being anti-development, and in 2016, it issued a statement claiming that the tribe was “fighting to preserve and protect our natural resources and cultural sites.”
Standing Rock’s tribe is now the third-largest in North Dakota.
Its reservation sits within a vast, highly contaminated area that is surrounded by oil and other hazardous substances.
The tribe was founded in 1871 by the Oglala Lakota.
The water on the reservation is also contaminated with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals, and the tribe’s traditional language and practices are threatened by mining.
Last year, the Sioux reported that its water levels were dropping by up to 20 feet, which prompted the Army to issue an environmental assessment of the project.
“As the Army is reviewing the pipeline, we will be monitoring the impact on our water resources,” said an Army spokesman.
“We will provide more information to the court as it is available.”
The tribes lawsuit contends that the agency failed to adequately consult with the tribes about the water resources it was protecting, and that the pipeline is likely to affect the tribes’ water supply for decades to come.
It also argues that the Army failed to fully consider the environmental impact of the pipeline when it decided to grant permission for the project, and also that the Corps failed to consider the impacts of the spill on other water resources in the area.
The Corps of Engineer and the Standing Dakota Tribe did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post’s request to comment for this article.