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Posted: 2019-02-11 21:48:12

A retired high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers played a significant role lobbying his former agency to push through the permitting process for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, new documents show.

The trove of emails, released last month as part of ongoing litigation by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Corps, sheds light on how retired Brig. Gen. Robert Crear worked to leverage his government connections on behalf of Energy Transfer Partners, a major partner in the pipeline. Despite environmental concerns and a staunch protest campaign driven by Native American efforts to protect their lands, the Corps issued multiple permits for the DAPL to proceed.

As the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues its legal battles against the pipeline, allies are alarmed by what the documents reveal. Jan Hasselman, a lawyer with Earthjustice who has been representing the tribe, read the emails with dismay. “It is totally unacceptable that a former high-ranking government official should be allowed to lobby his former agency on behalf of private interests,” he told HuffPost. “And it is so common that no one even looks twice.”

An April to October 2016 standoff between Native Americans and allied activists and the pipeline company at Standing Rock in North Dakota ended with a heavy-handed response by the state of North Dakota and the pipeline company’s private security contractors. During the last days of the Obama administration, the Corps announced a new and comprehensive review, which would have further delayed the project. In his first week in office, President Donald Trump essentially overturned that decision, advancing approval of the pipeline.

But even before the 2016 protests, the permitting process was fraught with disagreements between the pipeline company and the U.S. government over timelines and appropriate checks and balances.

Crear had a decadelong career in the Corps, where he served as chief of staff and commanding general, as well as

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