Federal agencies are required to consult with tribes about pipelines. They often don’t.

Read the full story in Grist.

In Montana, the Keystone XL pipeline’s proposed path cuts underneath the Missouri River at the edge of the Fort Peck Reservation’s southwestern border. The Fort Peck Reservation is home to several bands of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes, and a spill from the pipeline could contaminate their main source of drinking water.

Federal agencies are required by law to work with Native American tribes that might be affected by oil and gas projects. But there hasn’t been a single public hearing on the Fort Peck Reservation yet, even though the pipeline has been a source of controversy for about a decade.

There are similar stories in Virginia, New Mexico, and elsewhere across the country, according to Indian law experts tracking oil and gas projects. Tribal officials say they try to contact federal agencies and don’t hear back, or that agencies make key decisions before contacting them. Sometimes an agency sends letters asking for tribes’ input to the wrong address or never contacts them at all.

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