Nice Time! Obama Administration Cavalry Comes, Puts Hold On North Dakota Pipeline
Good Guys win for a change!
Some bad news/good news Friday on the Dakota Access Pipeline being built to take Bakken crude oil from North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Led by members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, thousands of protesters have shown up to try to stop the bulldozing of sacred sites in the path of the pipeline (a swath of land, unfortunately, was already bulldozed last weekend), and the tribe sued in federal court to stop the construction on a route that will take the pipeline under the Missouri River. So first, the bad news: U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the tribe's request for an injunction halting construction altogether, rejecting the tribe's claim that sacred sites would be affected. But now the good news: the Justice Department, Army Corps of Engineers, and Interior Department issued a joint statement following the court's decision, announcing that the Corps of Engineers would not authorize construction on land owned by the Corps, and requesting that the Dallas-based pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, also agree to a temporary halt to construction.
The statement from the three government agencies says,
The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws. Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time. The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved -- including the pipeline company and its workers -- deserves a clear and timely resolution. In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.
The statement went on to say that the case illustrates the need for "a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects." The agencies will invite tribes to "formal, government-to-government consultations" this fall to determine how the federal government can more effectively include tribes' input on projects within the existing framework for decision-making on pipeline and other infrastructure projects, and also to decide whether new legislation should be introduced in Congress to change the planning and permitting process so tribes will have adequate input.
Energy Transfer Partners has not yet responded to the AP's phone calls or emails requesting comment on the agencies' request to pause construction.
Silly Lakota people, thinking it's 'their' land.
Continued, expanded protests are expected following the judge's decision not to grant an injunction. In addition, the AP reports,
On Thursday, North Dakota's archaeologist said that piece of private land was not previously surveyed by the state would be surveyed next week and that if artifacts are found, pipeline work still could cease.
The company plans to have the pipeline completed this year. In court papers, ETP said stopping the project would cost it $1.4 billion the first year, mostly due to lost revenue in hauling crude.
"Investor appetite for the project could shift and financing may no longer be available," the company said. "Construction of the entire project would cease and the project itself would be jeopardized."
Gosh, it sure would be terrible if investors lost their appetite for a pipeline that could poison tribes' water. Sound to us like an excellent reason for more and louder protests. As we mentioned in our last piece on the pipeline protests, two crowdsourcing campaigns have been set up to help the protestors: a GoFundMe to help protesters at the Sacred Stone Camp, and a legal defense fund to help cover legal costs. Here's to raising hell, remembering that "Water is Life," and giving investors a bad case of fiscal indigestion. The next status conference for the Standing Rock Sioux's lawsuit to revoke all construction permits for the pipeline will be held on September 16.
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