Victory at Standing Rock

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CANNON BALL, ND - DECEMBER 04:  Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a  months-long standoff.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) CANNON BALL, ND – DECEMBER 04: Fireworks fill the night sky above Oceti Sakowin Camp as activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline near the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Protesters across the United States celebrated today after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would “explore alternate routes” for the Dakota Access Pipeline instead of granting an easement the pipeline. Over 2,000 U.S. military veterans had joined the thousands of protesters at the site to protect them from the authorities, and federal officials had given them until tomorrow to leave the site .

Native American tribes began last April to block the part of the current 1,172-mile-long pipeline’s $3.8 billion project designed to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota at the confluence…

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Posted on 12/05/2016, in civil rights, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

    On Sunday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, just north of the encampments at Standing Rock. This is amazing, virtually unprecedented, and a movement victory — and the water protectors who have led the fight are right to claim it as such. It’s also likely temporary and by no means the end of this fight. Here’s some context and paths forward as best I understand right now.

    WHAT HAPPENED: The Corps denied the easement and ordered an Environmental Impact Statement, which is a formal study which will compare various route alternatives. Denying the easement was a stepping stone to getting to an EIS here for the Corps, and doesn’t mean that the pipeline won’t be built in its current alignment near Standing Rock eventually. The Corps is essentially hitting the pause button and initiating further study.

    HOW DOES AN EIS GO? There are usually three phases to conducting an EIS: Scoping, Draft, and Final. The public can generally comment during each phase. The purpose of scoping is to identify what should be studied in the EIS — the scope. Then the Corps and their EIS contractor prepare and release a draft, which the public is invited to comment on. They then rework the draft in light of public input and release a final version, which the public can generally also comment on. The process usually takes several months, and can last for years depending on the project’s complexity. A generic timeline would be about nine months, but we don’t have any actual guidance yet on the timeline for this particular EIS.

    WILL THIS ACTUALLY STOP CONSTRUCTION? Debatable. It would be illegal for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Missouri, but that’s not to say they won’t do it and opt to pay whatever legal penalties they incur. That would be a fairly shocking move on their part but they’ve hinted they may be open to doing it. It’s easy to imagine that an incoming Trump administration would do their best to make the penalties as minimal as possible.

    WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR ETP TO DRILL RIGHT NOW? Contracts with oil shippers. These contracts, called take-or-pay contracts, obligate shippers to pay money to the pipeline company over a long, committed period of time regardless of whether they have oil to actually send or not. It’s a great deal for DAPL but not so good for the oil shippers, especially now that the Bakken oil boom isn’t so hot. These contracts expire if the pipeline isn’t substantially complete by January 1, and there’s somewhat of a chance that some shippers will choose to drop out at that point due to changing economics in the industry if the pipeline isn’t complete. Sunday’s decision by the Corps means that the pipeline won’t be complete by January 1 unless ETP breaks the law and drills anyway.

    WHAT ABOUT TRUMP? Oh, you had to ask. He’s a problem here. Once he’s president, he’ll be able to stack the deck at the Army Corps so that the EIS is weak or biased in favor of DAPL, and he might be able to stop the EIS process altogether and reinstate the permit, though I don’t know the legal specifics here yet. It’s very doubtful that we’ll see a full and robust EIS with him taking office. The upshot of Sunday’s decision as I see it, assuming that ETP chooses to follow the law, is that it delays approval of the line until after Trump takes office, giving time for the contracts to expire and letting the worst of winter slide by without the need for full forces at the encampments.

    WHAT CAN WE DO IN THE MEANTIME? We can continue the work we’ve been doing, because it’s all still relevant and helpful, and will become quite urgent again in at most a few months. We can go after the banks harder than ever to cut off funding to DAPL. We can continue to spread information, lobby elected officials, lobby the Corps, hold events, train for direct action. We can engage in the EIS process once it begins. This isn’t the end of the fight by a long shot, but it’s a brief respite between battles and a sign of how far we’ve come thanks to the indigenous leadership and water protectors at Standing Rock. Let’s celebrate and reflect and keep fighting. #NoDAPL


    Will the Army Corps actually conduct an Environmental Impact Statement? If so, on what portion of the project – just the river crossing, or the whole pipeline?
    2. What issues will the EIS take into account? (for example, will it include an analysis of spill risk? how about sacred sites? will it reassess the economic need for the pipeline now that the bakken is busting?)
    3. Which alternative routes will be considered? Will a “no-build” option also be considered?
    4. How long will the EIS take?
    5. What input will the tribe have? What will the public participation process look like?
    6. In what way(s) was the original Environmental Assessment prepared by the Army Corps deemed inadequate?
    7. What was the result of the tribal consultation process exploring possible changes to the regulatory process for pipelines in general? have any changes been proposed?
    8. How easily will these decisions be reversed by a Trump administration?
    9. How will these decisions be affected by the outcomes of DAPL’s lawsuit against the Army Corps, scheduled to be heard on Friday?
    10. Is the US government prepared to use force to stop the company from drilling under the river without a permit, if necessary?

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  2. Thank goodness for that! I’m praying for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

    From Saturday:
    Daniel Sheehan of the Lakota Law Project (December 3, 2016)

    Transcript beginning at video timestamp 10:11:

    “It is important to remember that all that’s happened is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who claims to have legal custody over this area where we’re standing. And, we’re standing right here to the south of us is the Cannon Ball River. The Cannon Ball River according to the United States government is the northern-most boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Uh, but that is only because back in 1954 the United States government exercised, from their point of view, an act of eminent domain and seized all of this property here that you can see.

    “This was all land that was explicitly acknowledged, not granted by the government, but acknowledged by the United States government to already have belonged for thousand years to the people of Seven Council Fires or the people of Oceti Sakowin Oyate.

    “And, so, all of this land here is understood on the part of the people of The Seven Council Fires, or what White people understand to be the great Sioux Nation is all land that belongs traditionally to the people of the Oceti Sakowin.

    “The United States government takes the position that the land north of the river, you can see it right over there, that all of this land north of it where we’re standing has been taken over, has been taken by the United States government through an act of eminent domain back in 1954.

    “The purpose purported for that seizure by the United States government was to flood all of this land to constitute a reservoir that would be the water behind a dam that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
    built on the Missouri River. And, you can see the Missouri River off to our east right there. You can see it right through there.

    “And, what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is confronted with now is the demand on the part of a truly private corporation to drill.

    “You can see over there in the distance over the top of that far hill, the vehicles that are aligned up there. And, that is the North Dakota State Police and the Morton County Deputy Sheriff Association that are in armored vehicles that have been provided to them in the normal course of law enforcement by the Obama administration and W. Bush administration, military equipment that was originally designed to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bottom line…is that you see assembled at the top, you see the police now, the state police and the county sheriff’s office…

    “The high ground that you can see there is called Turtle Island. And, really all that it really is, it was a high point of ground before the flooding back in 1954 to 1958 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came and dammed the Missouri River, and they backed the river up.

    “It was anticipated pursuant to the exercise of eminent domain, the reason they took all of this land was because they had intended to have all of this land flooded by the lake which is called Lake Oahe (which is a large reservoir on the Missouri River).

    “So, they intended to have this flooded. So, what they have done is – you can see they they did not flood the entire area, they flooded just a portion of it which you can see off over to the side over you can see around Turtle Island right here. They flooded only less than half of the land.

    “And, so all of this land, though they seized it under guise of putting it to the public interest by flooding it and making it electricity for people around the state of North Dakota and other states around here.

    “The fact of the matter is that they have not used it for that. And, now they’re in the process of trying to just give it, in effect, to a corporation, not for the benefit of the people. This statement that was issued yesterday by President-elect Trump is just total bunk. You know, he has said that “Oh, we think that it’s really important for the benefit of the people of America that this pipeline go through.”

    “That’s total drivel. There isn’t a single drop of oil that is contemplated going through this pipeline that is going to help one American citizen other than the private stockholders of that company. They’re intending to sell every drop of that oil to foreign countries for their personal profit…

    “This (pipeline) is right above the aquifer. Below us is the Ogallala Aquifer…

    “If there is one single thing that you need to tell everybody…is that not one single drop of this oil that they are talking about putting through this pipeline, 470,000 barrels a day… is going to go to provide any energy whatsoever to a single American…”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Two sides to a story

    Stay “woke!”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. yahtzeebutterfly

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  6. yahtzeebutterfly

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  7. yahtzeebutterfly


    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Veterans Ask Native Elders For Forgiveness At Standing Rock
      “We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.” -Wes Clark, Jr.


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