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  • A log adorned with colorful decorations remains at a Dakota Access Pipeline protest encampment as construction work continues on the pipeline near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

    A log adorned with colorful decorations remains at a Dakota Access Pipeline protest encampment as construction work continues on the pipeline near the town of Cannon Ball, North Dakota. | Photo: Reuters

Senator John Hoeven, former governor of North Dakota, has regularly supported the oil industry at the expense of tribal sovereignty.

The new chair of the Indian Affairs committee in the Senate, John Hoeven, is an active supporter of the Dakota Access Pipeline and other energy projects that threaten tribal land.

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Hoeven, who was elected chairman on Thursday, previously said that the Dakota Access Pipeline “has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers." 

He also co-sponsored a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which also drew international activism to protect Indigenous lands and prevent environmental damage.

His top contributions come from the oil and gas industry, which donated over US$350,000 to his campaign committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with the mining industry coming in a close fourth.

As former governor of North Dakota, he also leads the Dakota PAC, which has received funds from Lockheed Martin and the Duke Energy Corporation. Hoeven is also on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which decides how private actors use public land, including oil and gas, timber and mining companies.

Hoeven responded to his election saying that he is “honored” to work to “improve the lives of people across Indian Country.”

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As a senator from North Dakota, Hoeven has addressed Native American issues on multiple occasions.

He co-sponsored legislation to promote Native American heritage and tourism but also to encourage tribes to develop their own energy programs and exclude them from the Labor Relations Act. 

Hoeven was also a proponent of the aggressive repression against the protesters at the Standing Rock camp, requesting federal forces and leading an effort to increase Homeland Security funding. He is also co-sponsoring acts to designate a National Police Week and a National Day of the American Cowboy.

The vice chair of the Indian Affairs committee, Tom Udall, has received most of his funding from the League of Conservation Voters, but the oil and gas industry places high — higher that the environment sector — in industry donations.

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