USA Today reports Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called on President Barack Obama to stop the Dakota Access pipeline after a demonstration by the Standing Rock Sioux nation and allies outside the White House on Tuesday. Sanders is calling for a full environmental and cultural impact analysis. Sanders support comes after a September 9th joint statement from the Departments of Justice, Army and Interior pausing construction near Lake Oahe. Sanders reportedly believes these measures are insufficient, and that the pipeline is dangerous for the environment, water, and is exploitative to Native Americans.

The Standing Rock Sioux nation asserts that the pipeline is a threat to its drinking water supply, and to its sacred cultural sites. Sanders is reportedly confident that the deeper analysis he's asked for will kill the pipeline. There were over 200 anti-pipeline demonstrations in the wake of an internal memo by Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren expressing determination to continue the pipeline project.

Warren's internal memo

Warren's internal memo alleges that the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office did not locate any sacred sites. The Standing Rock Sioux nation asserts that no trained archaeologists have been employed to examine any of the contested sites. Standing Rock hired its own Lakota cultural expert, Tim Mentz, who identified several graves and sacred sites.

When Standing Rock filed an injunction in federal court to protect the site, Dakota Access workers bulldozed the site to prevent its identification. Warren's memo alleges that the pipeline is safe. Standing Rock is understandably skeptical in light of the hundreds of oil spills that have already happened in North Dakota in the last two years.

The previously mentioned joint DOJ statement prohibiting pipeline construction near Lake Oahe also asks that Dakota Access LLC voluntarily pause construction elsewhere, but it has no legal force. Warren's internal memo states his intention to meet with officials in Washington in order to bring the pipeline into operation. Sanders reportedly interpreted Warren's intention as a refusal to halt construction for a new review.

During Tuesday's White House anti-Dakota Access protest Sanders said without Energy Transfer Partners' compliance to halt construction for a new review, further administrative action is needed.

Sanders still popular with Native Americans

Bernie Sanders unprecedented support and inclusion of Native Americans in his Democratic Primary campaign was a beacon of hope for indigenous peoples who overwhelmingly still support the Vermont Senator on the basis of his stance on the environment and indigenous rights. During Tuesday's rally Sanders again asserted the need to transform the US energy system and move away from fossil fuels. Eliminating our dependence upon fossil fuels is critical for the protection of the human rights of indigenous peoples globally.

These rights are articulated in several international legal instruments to which the United States is a signatory. While the US has signed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) it has failed in every respect to actually implement it in its domestic law and policy. In fact, the US has and continues to create domestic legal norms with the specific intent of weakening UNDRIP as an international legal instrument for the protection of indigenous peoples' rights.

Why? Natural resources, and the money to be made from them. What so many in the environmental movement fail to understand is that indigenous peoples have always been on the front lines against fossil fuel.

In almost every instance fossil fuels are mined or drilled for in indigenous territories, transported across indigenous territories, and the waste is dumped in indigenous territories. Sanders asserts the US must transform its energy system to renewables like solar and wind. This is critical for protecting indigenous peoples' human rights.