Tag Archives: Dakota Access Pipeline

Future DAPL Operator’s Pennsylvania Pipeline Leaked

Despite the millions of voices worldwide speaking out against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), parent company Energy Transfer remains unmoved.

CEO Kelcy Warren assured his employees that they thoroughly spoke with the Standing Rock Sioux, and that DAPL wouldn’t threaten the Missouri River. However, a recent pipeline leak in Pennsylvania by Sunoco Logistics, the future operator of the DAPL, coupled with the continuing protests, astonishing arrests and abuses in North Dakota suggest otherwise.

Environmental Danger

On Oct. 20th, heavy rainfall led to the Sunoco pipeline bursting, leaking 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Wallis Run which connects to the Susquehanna River. Although the pipeline was shut down, the continuing rainfall and flash flooding made it hard to immediately assess the damage, with residents being  warned against using water from the river. With the water now receded, no serious problems arose except an odor, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the Susquehanna River safe for drinking again.

Not only does the Susquehanna River provide drinking water to 6 million people along the Chesapeake Bay but it is also listed by American Rivers as the third most endangered river in the US due to fracking from the natural gas industry. This leak brings to question Sunoco’s pipeline management, as their pipelines spill frequently — with more than 200 recorded leaks since 2010.

The same is expected to happen to the Standing Rock Sioux with DAPL, and potentially at a worse scale, since Sunoco Logistics, the future operator, has proven to be severely incompetent.

Human Rights Abuses

After the 127 arrests from Oct. 22nd and 23rd, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was called upon by Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault to investigate the pipeline developments and the excessive force used by law enforcement. Until the DOJ addresses the issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux, no final permits will be issued to Energy Transfer for construction bordering or under Lake Oahe. Once again, they requested the company to voluntarily halt construction.

Last week another 141 protesters were arrested —  making the arrest count more than 400 since the protests began. The arrestees were placed in temporary holding cells, which many are calling dog kennels, and had numbers written on their skin in black marker.

The use of these cages was upheld by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department for the mass arrests, seeing as Morton County Correctional Center only has room for 42 inmates at a time.

Morton officials also assured that the protesters had access to the bathroom, food and water, but firsthand accounts say that they had to wait for basic necessities and medical attention. One example is Johanna Holy Elk Face, a 63 year old diabetic woman who had high blood sugar at the time, which would have potentially led to a seizure had her treatment been delayed any longer while she was in custody.

Because of these mass arrests, a UN permanent forum on indigenous rights is investigating these human rights abuses.

Federal Inaction

This past Tuesday, President Barack Obama announced that the Army Corps of Engineers would look into rerouting DAPL around sacred native land. In an interview with NowThis, he said the government will “let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”

It’s finally a step in the right direction after months worth of pleas from protesters to halt construction, however, they can’t afford to be left waiting for federal action when the human rights and federal law violations are far too obvious and constant to ignore or wait to see what the other side has to say. There is no doubt that the police are overstepping their power, and Energy Transfer is guilty of neglecting environmental protection, tribal sovereignty and historical preservation.

The day after Obama’s interview, law enforcement clashed with protesters as they tried crossing Cantapeta Creek to Cannonball Ranch and faced pepper spray while wading through the water. This came after Energy Transfer found Native American artifacts along the route of DAPL last month and failed to report it to state regulators within 10 days.

While the company moved the route away from the artifacts, the lack of a report will likely get them fined up to $200,000. This also violates Executive Order 13007 on Protection of Sacred Sites where “each executive branch agency shall avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sites.”

Between the federal law violations and human rights abuses which appear to be increasing every day, federal action cannot be delayed any further, especially with Obama’s presidency coming so close to an end. He has good intentions to hope for a peaceful solution, but it won’t come any sooner if action is postponed, especially given how excessively violent North Dakota law enforcement has become within the past few weeks.

There is no good to come from DAPL, and Energy Transfer and North Dakota law enforcement have broken far too many laws to just let it slide under the rug anymore. The protesters need immediate backing from federal action if their water and livelihood has any chance to live in peace.

Disregarding Native Rights and Health, from PetroPeru to Dakota Access

Not too long after federal Judge James Boasberg denied the Standing Rock Sioux’s request to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Friday, the Obama Administration stepped in as the Department of Interior, Department of Justice and Army Corps of Engineers issued a joint statement, temporarily halting DAPL construction bordering Lake Oahe. The Army Corps of Engineers will reconsider the decisions which authorized the pipeline’s construction. The agencies also called for more formal discussions with tribes on what they can do to ensure full tribal input.

As we wait again for the fate of the Standing Rock Sioux, it cannot be reiterated enough that there is no good to come from pipelines carrying crude oil. Companies may claim they’re for energy independence, even though there are much cleaner sources of renewable energy like solar and wind, but they are more concerned with their own profits. The threat of development against public safety for Indigenous communities is not isolated to the Standing Rock Sioux, it’s become common across the globe, and isn’t limited to oil companies alone.

Just this year alone in Peru, a 40-year-old trans-Amazonian pipeline spilled four times, one of which in February spilled three thousand barrels of crude oil into the River Chiriaco, one of the country’s largest Amazon tributaries. The oil company, PetroPeru, assured that cleanup was going well, yet they didn’t provide adequate assistance to the indigenous communities. Children were paid by company officials to clean up oil without any protective suits and many became sick as a result of the chemicals. Community members are still eating the contaminated plants and fish because they have no other resources for food and so become sick, and farmers will not be able to plant new crops or sell their produce. Even PetroPeru’s doctors just assured patients affected by the spill that they just had the flu and would get better, yet never returned for any follow up.

Despite the devastation against the Wampis and Awajun communities, PetroPeru continued pumping oil against government orders, leading to two more spills in June and August without allotting any time to fix the damaged pipeline. Even during cleanup after the February spill, site chief Victor Palomino said accidents were “inevitable.” It is unethical to continue pumping oil, knowing fully well that the pipeline is an environmental disaster waiting to occur every few months. All that does is show how little the companies care about quality-reassurance and safety.

Meanwhile in Canada, approval for the tar sands pipeline, Northern Gateway, was overturned in July after an appeal by eight First Nations, four environmental groups and a labor union found the approval unconstitutional. The consultation was “brief, hurried and inadequate,” and disregarded any environmental concerns. If the pipeline was still underway for construction, it would pose risk against their resources for food.

Oil companies are not the only ones who seem to get away with such neglect, it’s also reached to conservation groups and national agencies as well. UN special rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz found in her report for the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress that conservation groups like the World Wildlife Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society were forcibly displacing indigenous people around the world from their homes for infrastructure projects like hydroelectric dams. In worse cases like with the deforestation in Mato Grosso in Brazil for agriculture, indigenous people are killed by ranchers and farmers who take over their land. Not only do these conservation groups neglect to consult the people who’ve been living in such areas for years, but they also seem to find Natives incapable of taking care of their own sacred land like when people were evicted from India’s Kanha tiger reserve despite that humans and tigers can co-inhabit the same area.

“[Native peoples] are best equipped to protect the world’s most threatened forests, and have been doing so for decades,” said RRI (Rights and Resources Initiative) Coordinator Andy White in the gathering. “Yet many conservation organizations and governments still treat them as obstacles to conservation rather than partners.” Despite whatever good intentions these groups have, the good is lost when they take over sacred indigenous land.

Even national agencies garner distrust among Natives such as the EPA’s insufficient response to the Gold King Mine Spill of 2015 which damaged Navajo water supplies in the Animas River, resulting in dried up crops. Even though the EPA was found at fault and supposedly took full responsibility, they still waited two days to notify people along the river of the spill and never gave details, much less provided any adequate clean up. After a year waiting for compensation for lost crops and reassurance that the water is safe to use, the Navajo Nation sued the EPA for its neglect.

The Standing Rock Sioux face similar risks as DAPL is proposed to be built through sacred burial sites and their main water source on the Missouri River– which also provides water to 18 million people and more than 50 cities downstream–, despite obvious violations of historical preservation, indigenous treaties and environmental protection. So it’s a very strange turn of events that now the Army Corps is reversing their decision, and ordering Dakota Access to stop construction. Does it mean that they acknowledged that they made a mistake in approving DAPL?

At the moment, it doesn’t seem to be that way given that the Administration’s joint statement suggested the Corps of Engineers complied with the National Historic Preservation Act. That cannot be further from the truth, as twenty-seven identified graves have already been dug up by Dakota Access, and the company also desecrated sacred land where pledges were made and gifts were received from spirits as detailed by Tim Mentz. This announcement is in the right direction for some reconciliation with the Standing Rock Sioux, but if construction is to be halted indefinitely and the agencies want to fix relations with tribes, the Army Corps needs to admit their neglect in approving DAPL’s construction.

Whether it’s oil companies, conservation groups or national agencies, the indifference towards human rights abuses seems to carry at a higher level when it comes to Indigenous lives at stake. They need to be held accountable for their recklessness whether they want to admit fault or not. Native peoples deserve better than to be ignored and forced away from their land, or even worse die because of a company’s selfishness and neglect. When properly supported and given sovereignty over their land, both the Indigenous peoples and land thrive.

Voice your opposition to the DAPL by signing onto these petitions:

Earth Justice: https://secure.earthjustice.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1861&_ga=1.188139371.296617086.1429319754

 

 

Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/jo-ellen-darcy-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline

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Image source: http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2016/09/more-dakota-access-protest-blackout-pipeline-bulldozes-ancient-burial-sites-over-holiday-weekend-attempts-to-provoke-violence-3408926.html (photo by Lauren McCauley) 

Pipeline Protest in Full Swing: Standing Strong with Standing Rock

Thousands of people — including members of more than 90 Native American communities — continue to reside at the Camp of the Sacred Stones in North Dakota in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

The protest camp was created by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation is a short half-mile from the proposed pipeline. If completed, DAPL threatens Standing Rock’s sacred sites and their main water source, as it would transfer millions of barrels of fracked oil under the Missouri River daily.

Construction on the pipeline, which is currently halted, depends on the results of a federal lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for permitting Dakota Access so close to their Treaty lands. During a preliminary injunction hearing on Wednesday, federal Judge James Boasberg stated that he expects to issue a ruling on the matter by Sept. 9.

Ongoing action against the pipeline has, however, garnered significant hostility from various government agencies.

Despite being a predominantly peaceful occupation, 29 people have been placed under arrest in the last two weeks. The FBI has even been called in to investigate a report of a laser allegedly being pointed at an aircraft that was surveying the area.

Amnesty International USA stated in a press release Wednesday that they have sent a delegation of human rights observers to the camp to monitor law enforcement operations. The international NGO has grown concerned over policing efforts at the construction site following the removal of state-owned water tanks that supplied the camp — supposedly due to “public safety concerns”.

This has led to mass donations of water and other supplies, ranging from food to camping gear, to the Sacred Stone camp. These shipments, along with financial contributions, are coming in from tribal organizations, nonprofits, individuals, and —  in one case — a Native American Fraternity, Sigma Nu Alpha Gamma at Oklahoma University.

Along with sending observers to the camp, Amnesty International also sent letters to North Dakota authorities enumerating both constitutional and human rights standards they are obligated to protect while policing the protest.

“Public assemblies should not be considered as the ‘enemy,’” the letter states, “The command hierarchy must convey a clear message to law enforcement officials that their task is to facilitate and not to restrict a peaceful public assembly.“

In recent weeks, there has been a swell in support for the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight against the Bakken pipeline, both at the camp and in the media. Indigenous communities from all over the world have offered statements of solidarity with the Standing Rock via social media outlets. Several high-profile individuals, like actresses Shailene Woodley and Susan Sarandon, protested outside the U.S. District Court for Wednesday’s injunction hearing in Washington D.C.

The Lakota People’s Law Project stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux, and their allies at Sacred Stone, in their fight to protect sacred water rights. It is imperative that the federal government prioritize people over pipelines, as disregard for the environmental implications of DAPL is disregard for native life and tribal sovereignty.  

Voice your opposition to the DAPL by signing onto these petitions:

Earth Justice: https://secure.earthjustice.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1861&_ga=1.188139371.296617086.1429319754 

Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/jo-ellen-darcy-stop-the-dakota-access-pipeline

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Image source: http://indigenousrising.org/yankton-siouxihanktonwan-to-host-government-to-government-consultation-with-us-army-corps-on-bakken-pipelinedapl/

Protesters Sued for Delaying Pipeline Construction

Dakota Access LLC sued Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault, who was arrested for trespassing but later released from jail, and other protesters on Monday for stalling construction of the their pipeline and threatening employees and law enforcement. The next day, the Houston-based company was granted a restraining order against the defendants on the grounds that their construction permits were valid.

Dakota Access and its parent company, Energy Transfer, are also going so far as to blatantly lie and try to appear like they are in the right to construct the pipeline. An anonymous Energy Transfer spokesperson said in an interview with Indian Country Today Media Network that “Dakota Access does not cross any reservation land and is compliant with all regulations regarding tribal coordination and cultural resources.”

This absolutely contradicts the fact that maps of the pipeline obviously show it crossing through reservations, including vital water sources on the Missouri River and ancestral burial sites, which construction crews began digging up last week amid protests. The Standing Rock Sioux voiced their concerns for months now and remain ignored.

They are scrambling to justify their actions, but they can’t sweep under the rug the environmental, tribal sovereignty and historical preservation violations they continue to openly commit. There is still a major risk in damaging vital water sources given that pipelines leak thousands of gallons of oil far too often. If any concerns from Standing Rock about the pipeline’s construction were taken seriously, then Dakota Access LLC shouldn’t be at all surprised from the outrage as they dig up sacred burial sites.

Meanwhile, protests show no signs of stopping as Archambault calls for more support nationwide, including for American citizens to contact their senators and representatives, and he even hopes for intervention from President Barack Obama. Other tribes like the Oglala Sioux and Crow Creek Sioux are sending members to the construction site to protest alongside the Standing Rock Sioux. Even celebrities are joining the fight against Dakota Access, like Shailene Woodley and Jason Mamoa.

No matter how much Dakota Access tries to justify their federal violations, their relentless greed and lies will never be overlooked. Protests will not end until Standing Rock takes back their land and Dakota Access is properly held accountable for their deplorable actions.

Support the Standing Rock Sioux by signing petitions in the change.org movement Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline to demand a stop to the piepline’s construction.

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Image source: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/18082016/native-americans-sioux-tribe-protest-north-dakota-access-bakken-oil-pipeline-fossil-fuels

Check out our report calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/truth-and-reconciliation

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Dakota Access Approved: Resistance Unfolds

With blatant disregard for tribal and environmental health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved the majority of permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline — a project that will transport crude oil through several states and over 200 separate water crossings.

The Corps announced approval of nearly all of the project’s necessary permits last week, despite ongoing vocal and legal opposition from landowners, activists, and tribes of the Dakotas. Requests by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation for a full environmental review prior to the permits’ approval were similarly ignored.

Undeterred by months of collective outrage, construction on the project has already begun. Energy Transfer’s spokesperson stated that their goal is to have the pipeline in operation by the end of this year.

For the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the pipeline is more than just another show of federal dismissal to tribal sovereignty, but a looming threat to the community’s water supply and their entire way of life. The disheartening news of approval for Dakota Access, however, has not stalled tribal activism against it.

By carrying crude oil through native territory, under the Missouri River, and across waterways significant to tribal peoples, the Dakota Access Pipeline is a high stakes gamble for the lives the Standing Rock Sioux. The simple fact of the matter is that fracking oil and then transporting massive distances is not safe and it threatens wildlife and human water sources. Between 2006 and 2014, there were 8,690 reported incidents of oil and brine spills in North Dakota’s oil industry; the completion of Dakota Access will surely increase this number to record-high levels.

On Wednesday, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps through Earthjustice in Washington D.C. The complaint cites a violation of National Historic Preservation Act, as well the Corps’ dismissal of tribal input and culturally significant sites when permitting the project.  

“We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “But the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.”

Proposed by the Texas-based company Energy Transfer, Dakota Access is slated to cost 3.4 billion dollars and stretch 1,164 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Also called the Bakken pipeline, it will carry 450,000 barrels of fracked oil from the Bakken Shale Formation in North Dakota to Illinois, where it will then be transported to Gulf Coast refineries.

Prioritization of Big Oil over Native American lives is troubling, but it’s not new.  “The Corps has a long history of going against the wishes and health of tribal nations” said the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Projected to be built in close proximity to the Standing Rock reservation’s northern border, the pipeline threatens contamination of the Missouri River. Because of this, the tribe launched a campaign called “Rezpect Our Water” several months ago, which has since gained international visibility and celebrity endorsements. The grassroots initiative involved tribal leaders and youth to raise awareness about the potential ramifications of the pipeline.

The ignorance of the Army Corps to the necessary legal and ethical parameters is systemic within federal attitudes toward native lands. It is simply unacceptable that a whole tribe’s way of life be put at risk for the sake of large energy revenues.

What’s worse is that the tax revenues being offered to other counties along the pipeline’s path will not be offered to Sioux County. Meaning, for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, their land will be put at risk while they will see no financial benefit from it.

The fight, as activists and indigenous communities have voiced, is far from over: “this decision,” said the Indigenous Environmental Network, “will not deter resistance against the dirty Bakken pipeline”.

Less than a week following the permits’ approval, there are already reports of vigilante resistance. Around 6am yesterday morning, Iowa news outlets began reporting fires on three separate construction sites along the Dakota Access route in the center of the state.

Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty noted that the fires seemed to be intentionally set along the pipeline, targeting the equipment, and caused a million dollars in damage to the machinery. There are no suspects thus far in the ongoing investigation.

This morning, protesters are gathered in Bismarck, North Dakota, on the grounds of Capitol to demand that legislators put a stop to the pipeline’s construction.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers refused to acknowledge the push-back of native interest groups, their allies, and environmental agencies when beginning construction; in doing so, they have opened up the door to new and increased forms of counteraction.

When Native Americans are totally discounted from major infrastructure decisions and their safety and ways of life are not prioritized, it shows the unethical framework in which development occurs in this country. Approving the Dakota Access pipeline is a dangerous and irresponsible move on behalf of the U.S. Army Corps. It reflects the devaluation of Native American lives and their ecological sovereignty, something that must perpetually be resisted.

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Image source: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CoLclpmXgAEX9E6.jpg

Check out our report calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/truth-and-reconciliation

Please sign our petition calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://lakotalaw.org/action

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Oil company ignores protests on Standing Rock Reservation, begins construction

Construction began on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) earlier this week. Residents in the rural areas of the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois — where the pipe will run through — celebrated the thousands of new jobs the project would create and the new economic growth it would bring to their communities. Meanwhile, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe fiercely protested the pipeline’s risk of an oil spill, which would contaminate the reservation’s only water source.

Standing Rock tribal members have been protesting the Dakota Pipeline for months. They began the campaign Rezpect Our Water to inform people on how the seemingly profitable multi-billion dollar project would mean disaster for the people of the Standing Rock reservation. The campaign website features video and letters from Standing Rock youth condemning the DAP:

“Our water isn’t the best. We don’t need it to be worse.”

—Anastasia White Mountain, 16

“I know you just want the money and everything but do you really want people hating you because you are helping to build the pipelines? Building the pipelines in the middle of our river is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in my life.”

—Alice Mae Iron Road, 14

“It is our land and has been our land since day one. It is our ancestors’ land, not yours.”

—Jeremy Allen Lester Jr., 14

The DAP will stretch 1,168 miles and connect pipelines in North Dakota to pipelines in Illinois, transporting about 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day. If the DAP ruptures, it will leak thousands of gallons of crude oil into the water that reservation residents rely on to cook, drink, and bathe in, poisoning the water beyond purification.

The Standing Rock Sioux reservation is the sixth-largest Indian reservation in the U.S., but the DAP’s potential effects on the reservation have been largely ignored by popular media. Several Hollywood stars have gotten behind the Rezpect Our Water campaign in an effort to increase its visibility, including Leonardo DiCaprio, a longtime environmental activist, and Jason Momoa, a native Hawaiian.

Several mainstream media outlets have been closely covering the DAP, but many articles focus on farmers’ concerns that the pipeline will not being finished soon enough. In a Des Moines Register article from May 12, one farmer says he wants the pipeline finished this year so that construction doesn’t extend into his 2017 crop year. He says it would interfere with his soil preparation and timeline for crop planting, resulting in lost yields.

While a delay in the pipeline construction would take a toll on some Midwestern states’ agriculture industries, the impacts would be mild in contrast to the Standing Rock reservation, where consequences would be much, much worse in the event of an oil spill.

The $3.8 billion pipeline has received permission for construction from three of the four states through which the pipe will run, with the exception being Iowa. Dakota Access filed a request with the Iowa Utilities Board two weeks ago to begin construction on land for which it has landowner approval and does not require federal permits. Iowa approved the project in March and the company hoped to get the green light to begin construction on Tuesday, but after stating that many landowners argued against the pipeline running through their property, the Iowa Utilities Board announced that it wanted more time to review comments and would delay its decision until further notice.

The U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been assigned the task of ensuring that the pipeline will have no adverse effects on wildlife and natural resources. As of May 20, the USACE has not issued any permits, and yet Dakota Access has begun construction anyway, at least in areas that don’t require federal permits. But in order for the company to finish its project, it requires the USACE’s go-ahead.

More than 100,000 people have signed a Change.org petition started by 13-year-old Anna Lee Rain YellowHammer calling for the USACE to reject the DAP. YellowHammer is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and lives in Fort Yates, North Dakota.

“My friends and I have played in the river since we were little; my great grandparents raised chickens and horses along it,” YellowHammer’s petition reads. “With such a high chance that this pipeline will leak, I can only guess that the oil industry keeps pushing for it because they don’t care about our health and safety. It’s like they think our lives are more expendable than others’.”

Dakota Access claims, “Pipelines are the safest mode of transporting crude oil,” on its website. When compared to transportation by rail or by road, which carry strong potential for car accidents, derailment, and explosions, transportation by pipeline is the obvious safe choice. But that does not mean it is safe, and that does not mean it should be built across a water source.

There were 8,690 reported incidents of oil and brine spills in North Dakota’s oil industry between 2006 and 2014. Just this week, a saltwater-oil mixture spilled at a site operated by Denbury Onshore LLC in Marmath, North Dakota — a three-hour drive west of the Standing Rock reservation.

This is not a matter of if the Dakota Access Pipeline will leak. It’s a matter of when. And when it does leak, people’s lives will be radically changed for the worst. Access to clean water isn’t a privilege, it’s a human right. By building the pipeline, Dakota Access is declaring that it is more concerned with its profits than with Native lives.

The future of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation rests on the USACE’s decision. A rejection would stop the pipeline dead in its trenches and prevent irreparable damage. But if the USACE approves the pipeline, the people of Standing Rock will inevitably suffer. Hundreds of oil spills occur every year; it would be foolish to think one couldn’t happen in the Missouri River. The Lakota people have faced and continue to face excessive abuse from their state governments, and they can’t afford to be abused any more. The USACE needs to reject the DAP, or it risks putting the entire Standing Rock reservation in harm’s way.

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Check out our report calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/truth-and-reconciliation

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Pipeline Leak Increases Concerns in Native American Communities

Protest

What was originally estimated as a 187 gallon Keystone Pipeline oil spill in Freeman, South Dakota has now drastically increased to nearly 17,000 gallons. TransCanada, the energy company that created the Keystone Pipeline, shut it down for repairs and cleanup when a leak was reported on April 2nd. No threat to the environment or public health was reported, and the pipeline is running again at a reduced pressure.

Despite TransCanada’s quick response, the threat of environmental damage still worries environmental activists and especially Native American communities, who oppose further construction of pipelines. This leak is the Keystone Pipeline’s 35th since it was established in 2010. It should have been reported by one of TransCanada’s automatic monitoring systems, but was instead found by local farmer Loren Schultz.

According to a report by the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA), the leak was caused by a problem in the welding that connected the pipes together. The pipe that failed was made by Welspun,  headquartered in India, which is known for their low-quality pipes.

These developments are fueling concerns from communities like the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, who face the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline being built on their water supply in the Missouri River. There is a high possibility that Dakota Access, the company building the pipeline, will repeat the same mistakes as TransCanada. This time, a leak could bring more severe damage, considering it would contaminate the water supply that thousands of people rely on.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, recently approved by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB), will run from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa, and will end in Patoka, Illinois. Dakota Access still needs approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources before constructions begins. However, none of the Sioux people on the nearby reservations were consulted about the pipeline crossing over their water supply, and their pleas for it being built elsewhere are being ignored.

The Dakota Access Pipeline violates the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act, since its construction over a body of water was not authorized by the U.S Congress. It also violates the National Historical Preservation Act because the reservation is home to sacred Native lands and the burial site of the Lakota leader Tatanka Iyotake, better known as “Sitting Bull.” The IUB is also facing a lawsuit from the Northwest Iowa Landowners Association, which argues that Dakota Access has no right to seize property for the pipeline.

According to Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault, the Dakota Access Pipeline not only threatens their water supply, but also sacred natural lands where eagles gather every spring.

“We still exist and we need to protect what little we have left because so much as been taken from us,” Archambault said in an interview with RT America.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to more carefully review and revise its preliminary plan for the Dakota Access Pipeline, adding there should be a closer look into the impacts a spill would have on drinking water for Native American tribes. If a proper investigation is not done and the Corps approves the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Nation is prepared to sue for environmental and historical preservation violations.

Dakota Access claims to care about the surrounding communities, but their actions have proven the opposite, they’re blinded by dollar signs and are spewing lies meant to comfort and assure people that nothing will go wrong. Considering how prevalent leaks are, the Dakota Access Pipeline will leak sooner or later, especially if they choose to cut corners and buy the cheapest pipes like TransCanada. Energy Independence should not come at the cost of endangering thousands of lives, forcibly taking property and destroying the environment—TransCanada and Dakota Access would beg to differ.

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Image Source: http://www.mobridgetribune.com/?p=11959

Check out our report calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission: http://lakotalaw.org/special-reports/truth-and-reconciliation

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Dakota Pipeline Threatens Tribal Water Sources

dapl-map-full

In a last ditch effort to protect the Missouri river from the Dakota Access Pipeline, dozens of tribal members from South and North Dakota gathered last Friday to protest. A camp has been set up at the point where the proposed pipeline would cross the river, and protesters plan to stay until the pipeline is stopped.

Members from the Standing Rock nation, Cheyenne River Lakota, and Rosebud Sioux, are saying Tribes were not properly consulted about the proposed pipeline, which has been approved by state regulators and now awaits federal confirmation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The proposed 1,130 mile, $3.8 billion pipeline will carry approximately 500,000 barrels a day from the Bakken oil fields in the western part of North Dakota to Illinois, and will also travel through South Dakota and Iowa in the process. It would cross the Missouri river, just yards from tribal lands, and pass through historic lands including burial grounds.

A portion of the pipeline would be constructed sixty-feet underneath the mouth of the Cannonball River, a tributary of the Missouri river and the municipal water source of the Standing Rock Tribe. If a leak or malfunction were to occur, the Tribe’s cherished water source would immediately be jeopardized.

There are approximately 2.5 million miles of pipeline transporting natural gas and crude oil throughout the United States, and leaks resulting in catastrophic consequences for the surrounding communities and environment occur annually.

Last year in May, a devastating spill occurred near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara, California. The corroded pipeline spilled approximately 142,800 gallons of crude oil into the pacific ocean and coastline. Within 24 hours, the oil polluted nine miles of coastline in Santa Barbara, with an estimated $250 million in damages.

Earlier this week, a “potential leak” in southeastern South Dakota has led TransCanada Corporation to investigate and cease operations on a portion of the Keystone XL pipeline.

While most of these leaks are due to corrosive pipes that had been constructed decades prior, the same notion of “it’ll happen eventually” is at the forefront of the Dakota Access pipeline protests. Additionally, the recent developments of the Keystone XL pipeline’s infrastructure, which was built less than a decade ago, raises further issues.

Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based energy company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, insists they are committed to “minimizing and mitigating the impacts to land properties,” boasting that pipelines are the safest and most efficient method of transporting energy resources.

ETP’s statements are deceptive, the proposed pipeline’s construction could seriously jeopardize the livelihood of the tribe and surrounding communities. Energy Transfer Partners are disregarding the concerns of local tribes, and a federal approval for the pipeline without a proper environmental impact study could ultimately lead to a grave environmental disaster in the region.

Pipelines are “ticking time bombs,” said Tony Iallonardo, communications director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, in an interview with ProPublica.

Any pipeline could rupture from inevitable exposure to the elements over time, and in this context, it is clear why Standing Rock and others are opposing it and pushing for a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.