AuthorTopic: Standoff at Standing Rock  (Read 64096 times)

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Judge rules Dakota Access pipeline company can keep spill risks secret from the public
A federal judge ruled that Energy Transfer Partners can keep some information about the pipeline secret.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File

Despite concerns that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline could threaten the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, a federal judge ruled that the pipeline’s developer can keep some information about spill risks secret from the public.

The ruling — which would permit Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the pipeline, to keep information about spill risks at certain points along the pipeline shielded from the public — comes after unknown protesters used a torch to burn holes in empty above-ground segments of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had argued that information about spill risks could potentially strengthen their case for more environmental review of the project.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected that argument, saying that shielding the information from public view would prevent vandalism of the pipeline.

“The asserted interest in limiting intentionally inflicted harm outweighs the tribes’ generalized interests in public disclosure and scrutiny,” Boasberg said in his ruling.

Other information, however, will be available to the public, such as how Energy Transfer Partners plans to handle potential spills.
‘We haven’t lost…we have awakened’: Indigenous nations march on the White House

Despite recent setbacks at Standing Rock, Native communities are energized about the future.

The pipeline’s construction has sparked intense public protest from indigenous, environmental, and social justice groups. Last year, protest camps near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation brought tens of thousands of protesters, including military veterans and activists from other countries. At times, the protests turned violent, with police using non-lethal bullets, dogs, teargas, and water cannons against protesters. As of February, there had been 750 arrests of anti-pipeline protesters, according to the Associated Press.

The Obama administration had temporarily halted construction of the pipeline in December, ordering the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a more thorough environmental study of the risks associated with the pipeline. Of primary concern was the fact that the route of the pipeline was set to cross directly beneath the Missouri River, near the Standing Rock reservation’s primary source of drinking water. Any spill, the tribe argued, could threaten their access to clean water.
The environmental movement grapples with social justice in the age of Trump

This year, big environmental stories also had big social justice components. What happens now?

President Trump swiftly reversed the Obama administration’s pause on the pipeline’s construction, using executive action to demand that the Army Corps of Engineers review and approve the pipeline “in an expedited manner.”

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes are still currently engaged in litigation against the pipeline, arguing that the Army Corps failed to conduct a thorough enough environmental study of the pipeline. They also argue that the government failed to take tribal concerns into account when approving the pipeline.

Pipeline spills in North Dakota are not uncommon — according to analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, North Dakota has averaged four pipeline spills a year since 1996, costing more than $40 million in property damage.

Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the Environmental Protection Agency would face sharp cuts in its enforcement programs, limiting its ability to enforce and penalize companies that violate environmental laws. When pipeline operators, for instance, violate laws like the Clean Water Act by spilling pollutants into waterways, the EPA is normally the agency that imposes fines on those operators. Last week, for instance, the EPA and the Department of Justice issued a fine against a pipeline operator in Ohio that violated the Clean Water Act by discharging approximately 1,950 barrels of gasoline from a pipeline into nearby waterways.
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Amish Mni Wiconi Protest on the Horizon
« Reply #361 on: May 05, 2017, 06:13:39 PM »
If they set the dogs on the Amish, that will be much worse publicity then doing it to First Nations protesters.  Amish people are WHITE!


North Dakota officials warn Lancaster County ahead of looming pipeline protest

1 / 11
A group of protesters from Lancaster Against Pipelines begin to set up an encampment near the route of the Atlantic Sunrise Project through Lancaster County, Feb. 18, 2017. One of the founders of Lancaster Against Pipelines Malinda Harnish-Clatterbuck says "we are here for the long hall, were here to make a statement and were her to fight for our rights" hoping that the encampment through it's numbers will show the injustice they feel in an out of state company building a pipeline through there community for private gain. James Robinson |

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Colin Deppen | By Colin Deppen |
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on May 05, 2017 at 4:40 PM

Months after the culmination of a massive pipeline protest in North Dakota, officials there are warning their Lancaster County counterparts to start preparing for what may be a similar showdown between the pipeline industry and its opponents in Pennsylvania.

Construction on the Lancaster County portion of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project is expected to begin later this year, and opponents have vowed to prevent its completion through civil disobedience and a live-in protest at the site. 

It's a similar method to that employed by Native American protesters and their supporters in confronting the Dakota Access Pipeline project in North Dakota last year, a protest that some Atlantic Sunrise opponents from Lancaster County also took part in.

Now, North Dakota officials are looking to impart the law enforcement lessons learned from Dakota Access to officials in Lancaster County, telling them to "Go big" and "Go fast ... before things spin out of control," reports.

Is Pa. pipeline fight on Amish farm the next Standing Rock? 'We're prepared to be here for months'

Is Pa. pipeline fight on Amish farm the next Standing Rock? 'We're prepared to be here for months'

"Standing Rock showed communities all over the country that this is what it could look like... Grassroots action can make a difference," Mark Clatterbuck of the Lancaster Against Pipelines group said.

According to the news site, the message was shared by nearly a dozen North Dakota state and local officials who spoke to their counterparts in Lancaster County Thursday at the request of Lancaster County Republican state Sen. Scott Martin.

"Martin said the purpose of the video teleconference was to ensure the county is prepared to handle expected protests for the pipeline, which is scheduled to be buried through 37 miles of western and southern Lancaster County," LancasterOnline reports.

The Atlantic Sunrise project is itself set to cross 10 Pennsylvania counties and roughly 200 miles of terrain total, leading to pockets of resistance elsewhere in the state as well. 

In Lancaster County, opponents say the project threatens property owner rights, the environment and indigenous sites.

The pipeline's builders at Williams Partners LP say there have been extensive route changes to address these concerns and that state and federal regulators have both signed off on the project.

Federal marshals will arrest those interfering with Atlantic Sunrise project: judge

Federal marshals will arrest those interfering with Atlantic Sunrise project: judge

The notice was contained in a memorandum he issued in support of his verbal decision Thursday granting an injunction that allows a Texas pipeline company to do survey work on a Schuylkill County property.

Meanwhile, core groups of locals continue to spearhead the resistance efforts in Lancaster and neighboring counties. A protest encampment has already been erected on private property near to where construction on the Atlantic Sunrise is expected to begin in Lancaster County this summer. A group behind the encampment says hundreds of locals have already signed up to participate in "peaceful, nonviolent" protests there. 

But North Dakota officials say it is the potential for out-of-state groups to join them that could make the situation even more potent.

"Unfortunately, a lot of times these things can be overwhelmed from outside groups," Sen. Martin said Thursday.

Martin noted that 94 percent of the more than 700 arrests during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests involved out-of-staters. (PennLive was not immediately able to independently verify this figure.)

Condemnation efforts start to obtain rights of way for Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

Condemnation efforts start to obtain rights of way for Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last Friday approved the $3 billion project that will increase the transportation capacity of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast.
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Pipeline protesters camp in Iowa as oil starts flowing
« Reply #362 on: May 13, 2017, 01:18:00 AM »

Pipeline protesters camp in Iowa as oil starts flowing
USA Today Network Kevin Hardy, The Des Moines Register 7:07 a.m. ET May 12, 2017

Dakota Access ready to begin carrying oil
Dakota Access ready to begin carrying oil

The Dakota Access Pipeline will begin carrying oil in may. Buzz60

(Photo: David Scrivner, Iowa City (Iowa) Press-Citizen)

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa — Even as oil flows through the now-completed Dakota Access pipeline, the fight against the hotly contested line still lives on in a makeshift camp here in Iowa County.

Little Creek Camp, with its collective of 20 or so environmentalists, opened after federal authorities in February evacuated the massive anti-pipeline encampment near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation at Cannon Ball, N.D., about 30 miles southeast of Bismarck, N.D.

Those campers say they believe the pipeline can still be defeated — even as its owner, Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP), plans to finish filling the 1,172-mile line with crude oil Sunday, shipping it from the Bakken formation in North Dakota to a distribution hub in Patoka, Ill.

"It's disheartening to say the least," said Glenn Williamson, a 41-year-old camp member from Sioux Falls, S.D. "But for some of us, it's strengthening our resolve as well. We know we still need to be here, and we are going to be as active, if not more, in the future."

► April: Ohio sent troopers to assist with security at Dakota Access Pipeline
► March: No jail time in plea deal for arrest in pipeline protest

The campers, spread among 14 acres of tall prairie grass and thick woods more than 500 miles southeast of their old campsite, hold out hope that the Iowa Supreme Court will reverse the Iowa Utilities Board's decision that granted Energy Transfer Partners' eminent domain authority for the project.

"These are really smart judges, and I think we have a fair shot in the Iowa Supreme Court," said Carolyn Raffensperger, executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network and a board member of the Sierra Club's Iowa chapter.

Even so, pipeline opponents have started broadening their aim to target other pipelines — including the Keystone XL project, which like Dakota Access was revived in President Trump's executive action in January.

► March: Dakota Access pipeline vandalism highlights sabotage risks
► March: Women of Standing Rock aren't backing down

At Little Creek and a network of small camps across the country, activists are attempting to transition the recent swell of opposition against Dakota Access into a larger, sustainable movement. 

"This is huge and important," Williamson said. "The work is never going to be done. I tried to go back into the real world, to sign that W-2 again, for about five weeks. I just couldn't do it, and I'm not the only one."
'We'll never even know it's there'

Energy Transfer spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger said the pipeline will be filled with oil by Sunday, and contracts with shippers begin June 1.

"We are very pleased to bring this important infrastructure project that benefits all Americans and our national economy into service on June 1," Dillinger said.

► March: Native Americans march to White House against Dakota pipeline
► February: Officers arrest remaining pipeline protesters, clear North Dakota site

Audobon County farmer Ed Wiederstein said the news from Energy Transfer should put an end to months of controversy over the pipeline, the largest ever to transport oil through Iowa.

The chairman of the pro-pipeline Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, Wiederstein said the pipeline will move oil safely across Iowa farms.
Construction on Oct. 26, 2016, for the Dakota Access

Construction on Oct. 26, 2016, for the Dakota Access Pipeline at Shirley Gerjets' farm in Rockwell City, Iowa, concerns Gergets because of the possibility of spills from the pipe in the middle of her field. (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave, The Des Moines Register)

"We’ll never even know it’s there," he said. "And that ground will be back in production. It won't be at 100% for a while, but it’ll get back there."

In Iowa, the debate has raged for months.

Farmers complained that construction crews were wrecking their soil, which they feared could affect corn and soybean yields for years to come.

Hundreds of activists repeatedly risked arrest protesting at and around active work sites — several even lodged themselves inside a piece of the 30-inch pipe in an attempt to delay construction.

Meanwhile, trade groups pointed to the economic windfall the pipeline delivered to workers who helped build it.

Still, Wiederstein said he's thankful that protests in Iowa never grew out of hand. He viewed the thousands who filled camps in North Dakota as "a little bit over the top."

There, hundreds of tribes congregated on the vast prairie to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which complained that the pipeline's path under the nearby Missouri River threatened the reservation's water supply.

The gathering, reaching upward of 10,000 people at times, turned the regional pipeline into an international story.

For all the attention garnered in the protests, Wiederstein said the project had plenty of reasons to get support:

• The more modern pipeline may help retire outdated lines.
• It will boost property-tax payments across the 18 Iowa counties it travels.
• And easement payments will give added income to many farmers.

"There were some that would have liked to have it zigzag through their farms, mainly because of what they got paid," Wiederstein said. "They didn’t mind the money."

On a recent drive near Ames, Iowa, he even forgot about the pipeline's path nearby because evidence of its construction had largely disappeared.

"I had to do a double-take," he said. "I couldn’t even see it."
Play Video

Officials say the controversial pipeline leaked about 84 gallons of crude oil at a South Dakota pump station in early April. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
'We're going to be on the lookout'

With oil filling the steel line, opponents say they will start watching for possible leaks and spills. The pipeline leaked 86 gallons in April near a rural pump station in South Dakota, The Associated Press reported.

"We’re going to be on the lookout. We’re going to be watchdogs because we have no faith in the Iowa Utilities Board or Dakota Access," said Matt Ohloff, an organizer with pipeline opponent Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.

“The fact is pipelines are proven to be the safest, most reliable and efficient way to transport energy products. We built the Dakota Access Pipeline using the latest technology.”
Lisa Dillinger, Energy Transfer Partners

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad said transitioning away from rail to pipeline transport of oil will prove safer.

"We have thousands of miles of pipeline through the state of Iowa," he said Thursday. "Many of them are much older, and the newer approach that was used in this pipeline I think will be a lot safer.”

While the Iowa Utilities Board granted the permit for the project, regulatory oversight lies with federal authorities, particularly the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. That agency was responsible for a slew of construction regulations regarding Dakota Access.

"The fact is pipelines are proven to be the safest, most reliable and efficient way to transport energy products," said Dillinger, the Energy Transfer spokeswoman. "We built the Dakota Access Pipeline using the latest technology and exceeded minimum federal safety requirements throughout the process."

The federal pipeline agency will require inspections of the pipeline at least once every three to seven years. But officials said some companies warrant more frequent inspections based on risk factors.

Environmentalists have little faith in the government's ability to regulate pipelines. Between 2010 and 2016, Iowa authorities were notified of 79 pipeline breaches from more than 25 pipeline operators, according to a Des Moines Register analysis.

"We're going to stay vigilant," Ohloff said. "Like we’ve said throughout this entire process, it’s not a matter of if a spill or leak happens, it’s a matter of when."
Play Video

Look at some numbers associated with the Bakken Pipeline, (Dakota Access Crude Pipeline) Rodney White/The Register
'It doesn't change anything'

Even with oil running under his Boone County farm, Dick Lamb has no plans to stop fighting the pipeline.

"It doesn't change anything," he said. "For a long time, the mantra of the resistance was, 'It’s not over till the oil is flowing.' And I guess I'd maintain it isn’t even over then."

► February: Judge denies request to halt Dakota Access pipeline work
► January: Malia Obama ditches Palm Springs for Sundance pipeline protest

He's among 14 landowners suing over the Iowa Utility Board's decision to grant eminent domain authority to the private pipeline developer.

Lamb said he has spent about $20,000 on legal costs so far. The suit was joined with one from the Iowa Sierra Club, which argued the pipeline posed environmental threats.

“They have just almost limitless funds for their legal process, and we don’t. They’ve been through this many times in many states, and we haven’t. But we are still hopeful.”
Dick Lamb, Iowa City, Iowa

Lamb is holding out hope, but he also acknowledged the fight ahead is a "longshot."

"They have just almost limitless funds for their legal process, and we don’t. They’ve been through this many times in many states, and we haven’t," said Lamb, 73. "But we are still hopeful. We think we have a good cause and a good argument."

Lamb, a retired research psychologist at ACT college admissions testing in Iowa City, said the 300-acre Boone County farm has been in his family since his grandfather purchased it in the 1870s.

"It's ours, and we just don’t want a pipeline" though another family has farmed the land for three generations, he said.

Dakota Access previously offered $390,000 for an easement to bury about a mile's worth of pipeline, but he received about $180,000 after rejecting the company's offers and the land was condemned with eminent domain authority.

Lamb's farm sits just off  U.S. 30 about two miles from the Ames city limits. Corn and soybean fields nearby have been developed for commercial use.

► January: Tribe vows to fight Trump on pipeline projects
► December: People left jobs, homes and family to join anti-pipeline camp

"One wouldn’t have to be a real estate mogul to realize it would have the potential for development," Lamb said. "They paid us absolutely nothing for that potential. They just viewed it as farmland. To me, that’s taking away our rights, and taking it away from our children."

At Little Creek Camp, the warm spring sun beats down on a small collection of tents, teepees and a plywood-wrapped yurt spread across the site of a former tree farm. 
Matthew Gordon, who used to live in the Quad Cities

Matthew Gordon, who used to live in the Quad Cities area, takes shade under a tree at Little Creek Camp in Williamsburg, Iowa. (Photo: David Scrivner, Iowa City (Iowa) Press-Citizen)

The North Dakota camp that came before it was of larger scale. But the occupiers here, staying with permission from the landowner, say that's not the point.

"We can't just fight. We can't just resist," said Matthew Gordon, a native of the Quad Cities who has been at Little Creek for two months. "We have to offer an alternative. We have an alternative here."

That alternative means a different, more eco-friendly approach to living. At the camp, piles of broken eggshells and rotting potato peels serve as compost in the making for a small, burgeoning garden.

At Little Creek, he scatters wildflower seeds and forages for food like stinging nettles, considered an invasive species by others.

He plans to restore native grasses and plants to boost bee and butterfly populations and to repair a shallow creek that weaves through the property.

"We're trying to be self-sufficient," he said. "This is the time. We can no longer sit on the fence. You have to make a choice."

Follow Kevin Hardy on Twitter: @kevinmhardy
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Standoff at Standing Rock: THEY'RE BACK!
« Reply #363 on: May 19, 2017, 07:51:58 AM »

They’re back: Dakota pipeline protesters set up camp to back Iowa farmers

By Valerie Richardson - The Washington Times - Thursday, May 18, 2017

WILLIAMSBURG, Iowa — The last thing Iowa County farmers expected to crop up amid their well-groomed corn and soybean fields was a permanent pipeline protest camp, given that the county has no pipeline.

But after the collapse of the Dakota Access protest in February, Christine Nobiss of the Indigenous Iowa blog returned to the Hawkeye State and founded the Little Creek Camp, a collection of tents and teepees dedicated to keeping the spirit of Standing Rock alive.

Railing against the Dakota Access pipeline may seem futile, given that the $3.8 billion project is slated to go into service on June 1, but “the point of this camp goes beyond a pipeline, I can tell you that,” Ms. Nobiss said.

“This camp is a think tank,” she said. “This camp is long-term in terms of building an eco-village, a sustainable community. We’re here to help local farmers fight Monsanto.”

Not all of those farmers are interested in their help. Organizers describe Little Creek as a “prayer and healing camp,” a kind of pit stop for activists, but locals such as Lance Schaefer are worried that the encampment could blow up into the kind of melee that devastated south-central North Dakota.

“Some people say, ‘Give them the benefit of the doubt,’ but once the horse is out of the barn, you can’t get him back in that easily,” Mr. Schaefer said. “We’re warning you and telling you, ‘This is what happened in North Dakota. It’s very similar to what’s happening in Iowa, and you should not let them get a foothold.’”

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We WON one!



Drone journalist faced 7 years behind bars for filming pipeline protests—and beat the case

Image: Jae C. Hong/AP/REX/Shutterstock

By Colin Daileda
10 hours ago

"I'm really at their mercy right now for something that I didn't do."

That was the voice of Aaron Turgeon in a video uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 31, 2016, as Turgeon learned what he was up against in court.

SEE ALSO: Drones are smuggling so much contraband into prisons that the UK created a 'squad'

Turgeon had used a drone, which he says he later returned, to record video of Native American-led protests against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would run through Native American land.

For this, Turgeon was arrested and charged with felony and misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment as well as a misdemeanor count of physical obstruction of a government function, according to Motherboard.

He faced up to seven years in jail, but was found not guilty on all counts on Thursday.

Turgeon said police had accused him of flying a drone at either a plane or a helicopter, and he seemed perplexed that he could even be accused of such a thing.

At about 33 minutes into the video below, you can see what is alleged to be Turgeon's drone flying nowhere close to a North Dakota Highway Patrol plane that is also in frame.

For this, he was accused of "extreme indifference to the value of human life," according to documents obtained by Motherboard.

The misdemeanor reckless endangerment charge came from allegedly flying a drone above protesters, "creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury or death."

Turgeon is not the only journalist arrested after recording what happened to pipeline protesters.

Democracy Now's Amy Goodman was charged with participating in a riot after recording video of protests in October.

She, like Turgeon, was cleared.
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Group continues pipeline protest at camp in Iowa County
« Reply #365 on: May 30, 2017, 12:32:52 AM »

Group continues pipeline protest at camp in Iowa County
KCCI  |  Updated: 9:44 PM CDT May 28, 2017

By Samantha Myers

A group of protesters in Eastern Iowa is still fighting against a pipeline that's already running oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

The Dakota Access Pipeline goes through 18 Iowa counties. The camp is a county away from where the pipeline sits.

The protesters are camping on some private land. They've made a small sustainable community and have no intention of packing up anytime soon.

"We're right now planting a bunch of gardens. We are in the process of building composting toilets. We're getting livestock," Allison Downie, one of the campers, said.

Christine Nobiss is one of the founders of the camp.

"As Standing Rock was winding down, I just felt it, I don't know, necessary to continue the fight in Iowa because Iowa truly is the last place that we could stop the Dakota Access Pipeline," Nobiss said.

The group said some farmers that own land that the pipeline now goes through could win an eminent domain lawsuit.

"They're going in and declaring eminent domain on people's lands for a corporation to make money. Eminent domain used to be if it was going to benefit the people, the community," Downie said.

The group said most people in the community have supported the camp, but there are a few groups aimed at shutting it down. One, called DefendIowa, constantly posts about the group on Facebook. In a post it said the protesters are "intent on recruiting dozens of leftist protesters under the guise of protecting our state. They are not to be trusted, based on their history at previous violent movements. We don't need/want them here!!"

Nobiss says those groups feel threatened economically.

"When you threaten money in the U.S., you threaten a lot of people because a lot of people believe the more money you have, the better your life is," Nobiss said.

The Iowa County sheriff told TV9 that deputies will stop by to check on the people living at the camp, who, the sheriff said, aren't doing anything illegal.

The protesters are planning on going to an Iowa Utilities Board meeting in June to protest the pipeline.
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Mni Wiconi LIVES ON!
« Reply #366 on: June 14, 2017, 07:39:59 PM »
Trumpovetsky will pop a cork if the Judiciary puts a lid on this one.


Dakota Access pipeline: judge rules environmental survey was inadequate

In what’s being hailed a ‘significant victory’ for pipeline’s opponents, a judge said he would consider whether operations must halt until assessment is redone

Protestors march against the Dakota Access pipeline in California. Trump revived the project after taking office. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Associated Press

Wednesday 14 June 2017 22.03 EDT
Last modified on Wednesday 14 June 2017 22.04 EDT

A federal judge has handed a lifeline to efforts to block the Dakota Access pipeline, ruling Wednesday that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately consider the possible impacts of an oil spill where the pipeline passes under the Missouri River.

US district judge James Boasberg said in a 91-page decision that the corps failed to take into account how a spill might affect “fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial”.
Dakota Access pipeline has first leak before it's fully operational
Read more

The judge said the army must redo its environmental analysis in certain sections and he would consider later whether the pipeline must halt operations in the meantime. A status conference is scheduled for next week.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has led opposition to the pipeline, called it “a significant victory”.

The pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) announced earlier this month that it started shipping oil to customers. ETP maintains that the 1,200-mile pipeline is safe, but the Standing Rock Cheyenne River, Yankton and Oglala Sioux tribes in the Dakotas fear environmental harm.

ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado did not immediately return email and phone messages seeking comment on Boasberg’s ruling. A spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice, Nicole Navas Oxman, said the department was reviewing the ruling.

The decision marks “an important turning point”, said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the nonprofit Earthjustice, which is representing the tribes in the lawsuit.

“Until now, the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe have been disregarded by builders of the Dakota Access pipeline and the Trump administration ... prompting a well-deserved global outcry,” Hasselman said.
Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II celebrated the decision.

Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman Dave Archambault II celebrated the decision. Photograph: Diane Bondareff/AP

The project led to months of demonstrations near the Standing Rock reservation and hundreds of protesters were arrested. The protests died off with the clearing of the main encampment in February and the completion of the pipeline.
'Those are our Eiffel Towers, our pyramids': Why Standing Rock is about much more than oil

Boasberg rejected two earlier complaints by the tribes. One was that the construction threatened sites of cultural and historical significance and the other was that the presence of oil in the pipeline under Lake Oahe would desecrate sacred waters and make it impossible for the tribes to freely exercise their religious beliefs.

“Now that the court has rejected these two lines of attack, Standing Rock and Cheyenne River here take their third shot, this time zeroing in DAPL’s environmental impact,” Boasberg wrote. He added later, “This volley meets with some degree of success.”

The corps originally declined to issue an easement for drilling and earlier this year launched a full environmental study of the Lake Oahe crossing, which it said would take up to two years to complete. Boasberg, the federal judge, had rejected an ETP request to stop the study.

“As we all know, elections have consequences, and the government’s position on the easement shifted significantly once President Trump assumed office on January 20, 2017,” Boasberg wrote in Wednesday’s ruling.
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Standoff at Standing Rock: Mni Wiconi FIGHTS ON!
« Reply #367 on: June 17, 2017, 02:38:17 AM »
I love it when the Underdog refuses to quit.  :icon_sunny:

Never QUIT, never GIVE UP, never say NEVER! and definitely NEVER SAY DIE!  Take it to the mat no matter how bloodied up you are. BE A FIGHTER FOR GOOD IN THE EXISTENTIAL BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD & EVIL!

Be the Cinderella Man.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>


Dakota pipeline protesters won a small victory in court. We must fight on
Julian Brave NoiseCat

The struggle is not yet over – in fact it is just beginning. In the courts, as well as in the press and public opinion, we may yet be able to stop Dakota Access
dapl protestor

‘Their struggle is not yet over – in fact it is just beginning.’ Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Contact author

Friday 16 June 2017 11.10 EDT
Last modified on Friday 16 June 2017 11.40 EDT

The fight against Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline was supposed to be consigned to the annals of history by now – at least if Donald Trump, oil oligarchs and law enforcement had their way.

Just days after his inauguration, the president signed a memorandum that reversed an Obama administration decision ordering a thorough environmental impact statement for the $3.8bn pipeline, and instead expedited permits for the project.

A month later, in February, police cleared the remaining protest camps erected in the path of the pipeline just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Even before Dakota Access became operational, it leaked in three separate incidents in March and April, vindicating protesters, who had warned that the pipeline posed a major threat to water, public health and the climate.

Despite massive resistance, oil began flowing through the pipeline on 1 June. The date was said to mark a final nail in the coffin of the anti-Dakota Access movement.

Anti-Dakota Access protesters, who came from around the world and call themselves water protectors, reportedly moved on, carrying the Standing Rock gospel to other pipeline fights across North America. The media and news cycle moved on too, turning attention to developing stories about Trump, Comey, Russia and the like.

On Wednesday, however, a federal judge breathed life back into the fight against Dakota Access. In a 91-page decision, US district judge James Boasberg ruled that the corps failed to take into account the impacts that a spill underneath the Missouri river could have on “fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial”. The corps’ hasty decision to permit the pipeline without a thorough environmental impact statement violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

Standing Rock and the neighboring Cheyenne River Sioux tribe launched two previous legal challenges against the pipeline. The first contended that the corps failed to properly consult with tribes about the threat that construction posed to sacred sites in the project’s path. The second argued that Dakota Access desecrated sacred waters and violated Lakota religious freedom. Neither line of legal defense against the project convinced the court.

This third attempt, which focused on the potential environmental impacts of the pipeline and the corps’ failure to adhere to environmental law largely succeeded, and marks a significant, if partial, victory for Standing Rock.

In his ruling, the judge ordered the army must redo its environmental analysis on sections of the pipeline that cross under Lake Oahe on the Missouri river. He also left open the possibility that Dakota Access could be forced to cease operations as a remedy for these violations.

The ruling shows that the Obama administration’s decision to order a thorough environmental impact statement for the pipeline was the most responsible legal action. It was not, as Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren claimed at the time “motivated purely by politics at the expense of a company that has done nothing but play by the rules”.

Quite to the contrary, Dakota Access and the government have apparently broken a list of rules and laws in order to force the pipeline through Standing Rock against the community’s will.

Standing Rock has long argued that the pipeline violates rights protected in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 as well as the constitutional right to religious freedom.

An ongoing investigation by the Intercept has revealed that the shadowy private security and international mercenary firm TigerSwan, which is held on retainer by Energy Transfer Partners, TigerSwan engaged in military-style counter-terrorism tactics brought back from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They monitored activists with drones and assigned security details to follow movement leaders. They infiltrated protest camps and watched organizers online. They provided law enforcement with “daily intelligence updates” and even met with investigators from the North Dakota attorney general’s office.

In addition to Wednesday’s ruling, these still emerging details paint a picture of a pipeline built upon dubious legality and enforced through brutal tactics coordinated by both police and private security.

As Energy Transfer Partners and Warren – who has a reported net worth of $3.9bn – look forward to a potentially lucrative 2017, hundreds of nonviolent water protectors have faced charges stemming from the Standing Rock demonstrations.

Their struggle is not yet over; in fact, it is just beginning. In the courts, as well as in the press and public opinion, they may yet win more victories to impede and stop Dakota Access.

This has significant implications for the future of indigenous rights, energy infrastructure and the climate.

At Standing Rock and beyond, indigenous peoples have shown that their rights and movements can defend people and planet against the incursions of fossil fuel goliaths. In the wake of the US exit from the Paris agreement, many are poised for despair and retreat.

But if we hold our ground and stand with the indigenous communities on the frontlines of our metastasizing environmental and climate catastrophes to protect the lands and waters that we all need to survive, the planet and its people may yet win.
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Special Report
Paramilitary security tracked and targeted DAPL opponents as “jihadists,” docs show
By Antonia Juhasz on Jun 1, 2017

Reuters/Stephanie Keith

As people nationwide rallied last year to support the Standing Rock Sioux’s attempts to block the Dakota Access Pipeline, a private security firm with experience fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan launched an intrusive military-style surveillance and counterintelligence campaign against the activists and their allies, according to internal company documents.

Its surveillance targets included everyone from Native American demonstrators to the actress Shailene Woodley, along with organizations including Black Lives Matter,, Veterans for Peace, the Catholic Worker Movement, and Food and Water Watch. The records label the protestors “jihadists” and seek to justify escalating action against them.

The activities of the company spanned, but were not limited to, the four states through which the pipeline passes: South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. The documents also show that its surveillance efforts continued after the breakup of the Standing Rock camps this winter, including at ongoing pipeline protests in southeastern Pennsylvania, Iowa, and South Dakota.

The internal documents from the firm, called TigerSwan, take the form of situation reports, or “sitreps,” prepared between September and April for its employer, Texas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners. The records detail a range of tactics that experts from the American Civil Liberties Union, National Lawyers Guild, and Electronic Frontier Foundation say would likely be illegal if conducted by law enforcement.

A private security company probably doesn’t face the same prohibitions, legal scholars say, but the close collaboration between TigerSwan and local, state, and federal authorities detailed in the firm’s internal reports raised red flags with them. Several legal experts described the contractor’s tactics as highly disturbing and perhaps unprecedented.

“It’s like a big brother society, with a private corporation — with even less restraints than the government — totally interfering with our right to privacy, free speech, assembly, and religious freedom,” said prominent civil rights attorney Jeff Haas, who works with the National Lawyers Guild and represents several of the nearly 800 people arrested while opposing the pipeline.

If the government can’t do it, he added, “Why should a private corporation working for another private corporation be able to?”

TigerSwan did not respond to requests for comment. Energy Transfer Partners said it would not answer questions related to its security procedures, but acknowledged that it had shared some information with law enforcement.

Dakota Access is expected to begin shipping oil today.

The tactics used against the self-described “water protectors” were first reported last weekend by The Intercept, which based its coverage on documents provided by a contractor who worked with TigerSwan, according to the news outlet. Grist independently obtained more than a dozen similar documents prior to The Intercept’s report.

According to the situation reports provided to Grist, TigerSwan also conducted surveillance of a church in Chicago, a 17-year-old girl in Iowa, and an AmeriCorps volunteer in Akron, among others. Reports of the actress Woodley’s arrest and the number of social media views she racked up were included in the reports.

The company specifically focused some of its most intense efforts on people of color — including Native American groups (like the Red Warrior Society and the American Indian Movement), members of Black Lives Matter, Palestinian activists, and those it labeled as “Islamists.”

Several of TigerSwan’s targets expressed surprise and outrage when informed of the surveillance against them, but also vowed to defy efforts at intimidation. “This is crazy!” said 21-year-old Alex Cohen, an Iowa activist named in the reports, which detail tracking him and his group’s movements and activities. At least some of TigerSwan’s knowledge could only have been gained through direct infiltration, he said.

A 17-year-old member of Cohen’s group was also included among the tracking reports. She was flattered when told the company considered her a threat. “I think it feels amazing that they are intimidated enough — not only by myself but by my friends — to write this!”

In addition to intrusive surveillance, the leaked documents reveal that the security firm attempted to create divisions between activists, manipulate and discredit pipeline opponents, and collect evidence that law enforcement could use to prosecute Standing Rock activists.

The ACLU’s human rights program director, Jamil Dakwar, said the records obtained by the news outlets suggest the company was painting an exaggerated picture to persuade both Energy Transfer Partners and law enforcement to take a more aggressive stance against those opposing the pipeline.

Said Dakwar: “They are operating with no transparency, no accountability.”
Self-defense or ‘hand-to-hand combat’

Last September, security guards employed by a company called Silverton deployed dogs against demonstrators near Standing Rock, resulting in several injuries, negative media attention (Democracy Now! caught them on camera), and an investigation — the dog handlers “were not registered as security officers” in the state of North Dakota, according to local officials.

Energy Transfer Partners appears to have responded by putting TigerSwan in charge of Dakota Access security, consolidating several contractors under its umbrella — including Silverton, which kept operating even after the dog incident, according to the leaked documents.

Based in North Carolina, TigerSwan has offices throughout the world, tens of millions of dollars worth of contracts with the federal government for security services abroad, and an Army Special Forces veteran as its chairman. (Read more about the company below.)

Many of the Standing Rock supporters named in the TigerSwan situation reports told Grist they had no idea that they had been the subject of surveillance by the company — and some disputed much of what the firm reported about them.

“This company is demented,” said Clayton Thomas-Müller, a member of the Canadian Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, and a campaigner with — a nonprofit organization frequently cited in the reports. TigerSwan reported on Thomas-Müller’s trip to the camps, though his purpose was simply to bring donated clothes from Winnipeg to the protestors at Standing Rock, he said.

In September, the leaked documents show, TigerSwan set up an “information operations campaign” targeting the Standing Rock activists — which, according to the nonprofit RAND Corporation, is defined in military and security circles as including “the collection of tactical information about an adversary as well as the dissemination of propaganda in pursuit of a competitive advantage over an opponent.”

TigerSwan’s Oct. 3 report describes trying to delegitimize the protests by exploiting “ongoing native versus non-native rifts, and tribal rifts between peaceful and violent elements.” Several situation reports also refer to “source reporting” and “informant collection,” suggesting the use of infiltrators to gather information from within the Standing Rock camps and protest groups.

The documents often portray protesters in what their targets say are exaggerated terms, apparently to inflate the potential danger they posed. For example, the Nov. 9 report ominously warns: “An element of the Black Panther Party from Chicago is active within the camps in ND. A member of that delegation led 30–40 activists in hand-to-hand combat training in Camp 2.”

“That’s definitely talking about me,” Kelly Hayes said when read the report over the phone. “But that’s definitely a misrepresentation.”

Hayes is a member of the Menominee Tribe; she’s not a Black Panther, she told me, identifying herself as part of a collective of indigenous and black organizers from Chicago “aimed at the defense of communities of color.” She taught what she describes as several “small pockets of women and fem folks” very basic self-defense classes, adding that she has never engaged in violent action.

The classes she taught were not advertised in the camp or on social media. “It was a word-of-mouth thing,” she said, and thus could only have been reported from someone on the ground in the camps.

“That really does say something about how infiltrated everything must have been,” she said. “It really just shows you that every step people took out there, they were under constant scrutiny and surveillance.”

Hayes made several trips to Standing Rock, the first during the early stages of the movement in spring 2016, when there were no more than a few dozen people at the camps — which later grew to house thousands. She ran the first direct action and blockade training sessions at Standing Rock, and came back subsequently to run more.

“We are educators, and we are protesters, and we are community members — and we’re doing movement work,” she said. “It sounds to me like these for-profit individuals were trying to make things sound more exciting and important to impress their employers.”

TigerSwan’s activities also reached well beyond the protest camps. A significant portion of the Nov. 11 situation report, for instance, is devoted to monitoring organizations and people of interest to the firm in the greater Chicago area, including the surveillance of a “local anti-DAPL church” and people who protested in the wake of Donald Trump victory in last year’s presidential election.

The company also reported on anti-pipeline sentiments at a second church in Illinois’ capital, Springfield, and, according to an earlier situation report, was probing links between Black Lives Matter Chicago and groups at local universities that it discovered via social media.

“I’m not entirely surprised that they would hone in on the black and brown organizing,” Hayes said. “They’re spending a lot of money, right, to infiltrate and figure out who we are and how we connect? That fear comes from a recognition of our power.”
Is any of this even legal?

U.S. laws regarding surveillance and other counterintelligence tactics don’t appear to specifically govern TigerSwan, an overseas military contractor operating as a private security force on American soil.

Several legal experts said the example it presents might be unprecedented. What happens when “private police” share information and act in concert with — or potentially at the behest of — public law enforcement agencies, but are not covered by the same laws?

That’s the sort of question that Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government asked police chiefs from across the country to consider at a 2014 symposium. The chiefs concluded that it would be a bad idea to hire an elite special-forces unit recently demobilized from Afghanistan to provide hostage-rescue services to a city police department.

“Military units are more oriented toward the use of decisive force against enemies, and less toward apprehending violators and achieving peaceful solutions,” the police chiefs reasoned. The private companies, they said, had profit motivation that could create “perverse incentives.”

Legal experts told Grist that the same sort of concerns apply to TigerSwan’s involvement at Standing Rock — especially as detailed in the leaked “situation report” documents.

TigerSwan’s Oct. 10 report, for example, says that its “social media cell has harnessed a URL coding technique to discover hidden profiles and groups associated with the protesters allowing the firm to access private social media information. … Self-incriminating information can be gathered on protesters to be used at a later date.” TigerSwan gained access to a private Facebook page created by Cohen’s group, Mississippi Stand, which provided information on rides to get members to protests.

“If they were getting unauthorized access to Facebook profiles — not the public stuff, but things that they shouldn’t have — then that could potentially be a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the federal anti-hacking law,” said David Greene, senior staff attorney and civil liberties director at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Greene said that if TigerSwan simply exploited a Facebook vulnerability, it wouldn’t be a violation. The company would have had to break a security measure that the social network had in place for it to be a legal matter — and it’s unclear if that happened, based on the limited details provided in the records.

Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the activities are potentially serious enough, however, that a subpoena should be sought to find out exactly what TigerSwan did.

Green added that “people who were spied on might have private causes of action. A typical cause of action might be for intrusion — the idea that their privacy was violated in a way that was sort of highly offensive.”

Jeff Haas with the National Lawyers Guild said he’s particularly concerned about the relationship between TigerSwan and law enforcement agencies. The documents provided to Grist detail multiple occasions that the firm met with or shared information with police and sheriff’s departments.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department — where Standing Rock is located — told Grist that it communicated with TigerSwan “in order to monitor and respond to illegal protest activity.” But it asserted that the sheriff’s department was responsible for maintaining safety on public land, while TigerSwan ran security on DAPL property.

“For a while, the courts have ruled that you’re not entitled to infiltrate or spy on people unless you have probable cause to believe they’ve committed a crime,” Haas said. “The government couldn’t meet that standard probably here.”

But the information provided by TigerSwan could have helped police forces overcome that prohibition. Elizabeth Joh, a private security legal scholar at the University of California, Davis, referred to such techniques as a “potential end run on the basic constitutional restraints we place upon police.”

Haas agreed. “It’s like we have a second level of government interference of surveillance that’s shared with official government forces, but how do you control that? I’m not sure the law is totally clear, but this could be a way to basically get around the Constitution. And until these documents got leaked, it was certainly a way to get around the public knowing about it.”
‘We have sources in the camp’

Joye Braun, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, hatched the idea that would become the Dakota Access resistance camps around Easter 2016. She felt frustrated that Energy Transfer Partners was ignoring tribal sovereignty, threatening sacred land, and cutting directly under Lake Oahe — the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and millions more people downstream.

On April 1, she and others raised the first yurts on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and along the shore of the Missouri River. Apart from a few trips home “to do laundry,” Braun said, she never left the camps until hospitalized for pneumonia nearly one year later, in late February 2017. She was one of the last people to go.

“Very early on,” Braun recalled, “I can remember sitting around the fire talking hypothetically: ‘What if they start using the things they did to the Iraq or Afghanistan people on us?’ We all laughed and said, ‘We are all Lakota and Dakota! We’ll survive!’”

As it happens, that talk around the fire turned prophetic.

After the Standing Rock encampments shut down at the end of February, Braun helped found the Cheyenne River camp in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, about a block away from her home. It’s a place to continue the resistance to Dakota Access (which still faces legal challenges) and prepare opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, authorized by President Trump shortly after his inauguration.

TigerSwan followed.

The April 9 situation report to Energy Transfer Partners states: “The Cheyenne River camp is much more organized than previous camps” and notes that its founders likely came from the ranks of the original Dakota Access protesters.

It continues: “We have sources in the camp working to confirm this information.”

What is TigerSwan?

A private military, government, and corporate security contractor based in Apex, North Carolina, TigerSwan was founded in 2007. Over the past five years, the company has worked on nearly 40 U.S. government contracts, totaling $10 million.

In 2013, CNBC profiled the company as it began to take on corporate clients concerned by cybersecurity threats. By then, half of TigerSwan’s business was for corporations.

Retired Lt. Col. Jim Reese cofounded TigerSwan and serves as its chair. He’s a veteran of the Army’s elite Delta Force. During the Iraq War, he led a task force targeting al Qaeda members, and he was a sought-after advisor throughout the war in Afghanistan. Reese’s name is now being pitched for FBI director.

Beginning in 2008, Reese was named as “key personnel” working for Blackwater, the controversial contractor now known as Academi, on a $1 billion State Department contract. McClatchy reports that in 2007, as Blackwater was under investigation for the deaths of 11 Iraqi civilians, it canceled a deal to buy farmland for a training ground near North Carolina’s Fort Bragg. TigerSwan instead bought the property with financing from Blackwater.

Antonia Juhasz writes about oil. You will find her stories in many publications, including Rolling Stone, Newsweek, Harper’s Magazine, and The Nation. She is the author of three books, most recently, Black Tide: The Devastating Impact of the Gulf Oil Spill
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Standing Rock - Court finds DAPL violated the law
« Reply #369 on: July 19, 2017, 04:56:50 AM »

Ruling: Trump administration shortcut environmental review; Court seeks additional briefing on whether to shut down pipeline – Washington, D.C. —

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline.

A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.

In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week.

“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests.

We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”
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Re: Standing Rock - Court finds DAPL violated the law
« Reply #370 on: July 19, 2017, 08:22:52 AM »

Ruling: Trump administration shortcut environmental review; Court seeks additional briefing on whether to shut down pipeline – Washington, D.C. —

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a significant victory today in its fight to protect the Tribe’s drinking water and ancestral lands from the Dakota Access pipeline.

A federal judge ruled that the federal permits authorizing the pipeline to cross the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock reservation, which were hastily issued by the Trump administration just days after the inauguration, violated the law in certain critical respects.

In a 91-page decision, Judge James Boasberg wrote, “the Court agrees that [the Corps] did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

The Court did not determine whether pipeline operations should be shut off and has requested additional briefing on the subject and a status conference next week.

“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a recent statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline, and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests.

We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately.”

According to some estimates I have seen the DAPL which is huge as pipelines go would only drain a cube of oil a third of a kilometer on an edge.  North Dakota oil is in a thin layer.  The business case it seems to me is to re-purpose DAPL for tar sands later on because oil trains can drain North Dakota in a few years.  IMHO.  As for stopping the pipeline that won't happen.  Big money is buying people off.  If it were me I'd have a tunneling machine re-route the snake 200 feet below Bismark but I'm not Trump.
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🛢️ First Nations Leaders Pledge to Block Pipeline Expansion
« Reply #371 on: April 18, 2018, 01:39:15 AM »

First Nations Leaders Pledge to Block Pipeline Expansion

Environment  •  April 17, 2018  •  Richard Fidler, Stewart Phillip and Serge Simon

At the 2015 Paris COP 21 climate conference Justin Trudeau pledged his newly-elected government would help “to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius as well as pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees.”

The strategy adopted was two-pronged and contradictory on its face: implementing gradual carbon price increases through carbon taxes or cap-and-trade mechanisms while building more pipeline capacity to boost exports of fossil-fuel resources, especially the products of Alberta’s tar sands.
Burnaby protest March 10 against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline project.

As environmentalists noted, the approach was inherently futile. Carbon taxes – contingent on provincial government consent – assumed higher costs would induce businesses to introduce less climate-destroying technology and practices. And provincial consent was dependent on the federal commitment to pipeline development, which inevitably would promote further fossil fuel exploration and production.

From the outset, Ottawa has faced opposition to carbon taxes from some provinces, which fear such market-based mechanisms will discourage private business investment. And mass popular opposition accompanied by the global downturn in resource prices has already led to TransCanada’s cancellation of its $15.7-billion Energy East project and Ottawa’s nixing of Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Although U.S. President Donald Trump has now reversed Obama’s stop to Keystone XL, its future is still in doubt in the face of opposition from U.S. environmental activists.
Doubling Pipeline Output

That leaves Kinder Morgan’s plan to duplicate its existing Trans Mountain pipeline. It entails a $7.4-billion duplication of an existing pipeline from Alberta, with a three-fold increase in capacity, that would carry tar sands bitumen to a refinery in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. From there tanker traffic to hoped-for Asian markets would increase from a current five boats per month to an estimated 34 threading their way through coastal tidal straits. The plan has become the linchpin of the Trudeau government’s hope to win support for its approach from an Alberta government eager to get its petroleum to tidewater, and which has hinged its carbon tax on completion of the Trans Mountain project.1

The economic prospects behind the Kinder Morgan project are suspect, given the declining prospects globally for new fossil-fuel export markets.2 More importantly, it is facing mounting protests from environmental and First Nations activists. In recent weeks, dozens of demonstrators at the Burnaby refinery have been arrested on trespassing charges. The newly-elected minority NDP government, dependent on support from the Green party, which opposes Kinder Morgan, has joined in legal challenges to the project. This has brought the B.C. government into conflict with Alberta’s, likewise held by the New Democratic Party.

However, both governments have been boosting fossil-fuel exports.

B.C. premier John Horgan says he will limit the province’s carbon tax rules applying to a $40-billion Shell Canada-led LNG project in Kitimat. He prepared the way for that project when he recently gave the go-ahead to completion of the $10.7-billion Site C dam in northern B.C., which the NDP had campaigned against prior to its election last year. The dam will provide electricity to the Kitimat project.

Alberta premier Rachel Notley has been negotiating with Ottawa to exempt tar-sands projects from federal climate reviews. B.C.’s support of the Kitimat LNG project while opposing Trans Mountain as environmentally unsafe is “hypocrisy,” she notes, because it will be processing shale gas extracted in Alberta.

Meanwhile, the OECD warned in December that “without a drastic decrease in the emissions intensity of the oilsands industry, the projected increase in oil production may seriously risk the achievement of Canada’s climate mitigation targets.” The report noted that Canada has the fourth largest greenhouse gas emissions of the OECD’s 35 developed national economies. As for carbon taxes, it said, Canada’s regime “is far below that of other OECD member countries.”

Then, on April 8 Texas-based Kinder Morgan announced it was suspending “non-essential” spending on the Trans Mountain project and would cancel it altogether if by May 31 it was not “guaranteed” the project could proceed despite the B.C. opposition.

The announcement produced a flurry of panic-stricken reaction from Canadian business elites, their media, and the Alberta and federal governments. Surely, it was exclaimed, Ottawa has the constitutional authority to override B.C.’s opposition – especially in a matter so eminently in the “national interest,” as Trudeau and Notley constantly reiterate. To ensure the project proceeds, both governments have even indicated interest in buying a stake in Kinder Morgan, if not the entire company, investing billions of taxpayer dollars in this climate-destroying enterprise.

However, their dilemma is that even federal “guarantees” of the project will not insulate it from popular protest. In fact, it will only generate more opposition. The fight over Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain project is far from over.

And there are some huge stakes involved, much greater than the fate of governments and their supposed “climate change” strategies. The broader issues are eloquently set out in a powerful statement authored by two First Nations chiefs and reproduced below. Their promise of militant direct action is redolent of the “blockadia” advocated by Naomi Klein in her best-selling book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate. And it echoes the Leap Manifesto, co-authored by Klein, which proclaims: This leap to “a country powered entirely by renewable energy… must begin by respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land,” the Indigenous communities that “have been at the forefront of protecting rivers, coasts, forests and lands from out-of-control industrial activity.” •

– Richard Fidler
If Ottawa Rams Through Trans Mountain, It Could Setup an Oka-like Crisis

Stewart Phillip and Serge Simon

As the federal and Alberta governments continue to pull their hair out over the B.C. government’s stand against Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and tanker project, it’s important to point out, as we’ve been doing for years, that the pipeline company doesn’t have the consent of all First Nations along the route. In fact, many of them are strongly opposed to the project.

Kinder Morgan’s recent announcement that it is stopping all but essential spending proves that its shareholders are starting to understand the degree and depth of the Indigenous-led opposition movement to this pipeline project.

The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion is made up of 150 Indigenous Nations in Canada and the United States, dozens of which are located along the Kinder Morgan pipeline route, with many of them having launched legal actions against the Kinder Morgan project.

Further, Indigenous Nations are supported by a quickly growing and broad-based network of support from allied Canadians who understand the existential threat that humanity faces from climate change and who are ready to stand up against the injustices still carried out today against Indigenous people.

More than 20,000 people have signed the Coast Protectors pledge to do whatever it takes to stop the pipeline. Thousands took part in a March 10 solidarity rally at the Kinder Morgan gates on Burnaby mountain.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has a decision to make. It can cut its losses and realize it simply made a mistake in approving the project. Or the Trudeau government can double down on its current path. But Canadians should be very clear-eyed about what that represents. It represents more than a failure of climate leadership. It means going back to the Stephen Harper days when Canada’s reputation on the climate file was mud.

Importantly, it also means going back to colonial-era relations with Indigenous people. In fact, if the federal government tries to ram through this pipeline, it could mean going back to one of the darkest times in modern Canadian history: the Oka standoff with the Mohawk Nation.

We just witnessed the ugly and shameful crackdown in the United States on the peaceful anti-pipeline protests at Standing Rock.

We don’t believe that’s the Canada that most Canadians want to live in. It would be a cruel joke indeed if, in this era of “reconciliation,” Canada instead repeats the mistakes of the past.

This is a learning moment for Canada. For far too long, governments and industry thought they could ignore Indigenous people by paying lip service to consulting us all the while doing what they wanted to do anyway.

Canadians are starting to grasp that there are governments and jurisdictions on this great land besides the provinces and the federal government. Indigenous peoples possess the inherent right to govern our territories. Pursuant to that inherent right, you need our free, prior and informed consent to develop our lands, especially when we are talking about a high-risk project such as Kinder Morgan that poses a real risk to those lands and waters and climate.

This is something the Supreme Court of Canada recognized in the historic 2014 Tsilhqot’in decision and it is the foundation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which the federal government has agreed to implement.

The other learning moment is that this beleaguered pipeline is forcing Canadians of all ages from all walks of life to begin to imagine a world that is not so reliant on oil. We should be racing as fast as we can to get off oil instead of producing even more of the dirtiest, most polluting kind from the Alberta oil sands.

This is not some typical debate with many sides to it – there’s really just two: right and wrong. Collective survival or collective suicide.

Finally, no one should see this as a constitutional crisis. On the contrary, this is our Constitution3 working, at least in practice, with Indigenous people acting as real decision makers on their territory. At the same time, you’re seeing beautiful acts of real reconciliation with Canadians standing up for our rights and trying to make this country a more just place. And we are finally seeing the kind of climate action that Canada needs and that the Trudeau government refused to take when it approved this pipeline.

The real constitutional crisis will occur if Mr. Trudeau chooses to ignore our constitutionally protected Aboriginal Title and Rights and Treaty Rights, and tries to ram through the pipeline – putting a lie to all his promises of reconciliation and setting Canada up for another catastrophic crisis on the same level as Oka. •

This statement by Stewart Phillip and Serge Simon published on the Globe and Mail website.

    Rachel Notley’s government has imposed a $30 per ton tax on carbon emissions, the revenue going mainly to consumer rebates and phasing out (not until 2030!) the province’s coal production, while its cap on tar-sands emissions would still allow a 47.5% increase above 2014 levels. See “What if the Trans Mountain pipeline is never built?”
    See, for example, “Only Fantasies, Desperation and Wishful Thinking Keep Pipeline Plans Alive,” and “Forget Trans Mountain, here’s the sustainable way forward for Canada’s energy sector.”
    Implicitly, a reference to the militant campaign mounted by First Nations leaders and activists in the early 1980s to get some protection for indigenous rights included in Pierre Trudeau’s envisaged Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. At the last moment, Trudeau included “a new section in the charter of rights. It reads ‘The guarantee in this charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms… that pertain to the native peoples of Canada.’ [Constitutional scholar Edward] McWhinney writes later that the clause carried almost no weight in law; it merely says that there are whatever rights there are, without saying what they are.” That was left to the courts, and to a later constitutional conference that failed to reach a consensus on First Nations rights. See Robert Sheppard and Michael Valpy, The National Deal: The Fight for a Canadian Constitution (Fleet Books, Toronto, 1982), p. 161.

Richard Fidler is an Ottawa activist who blogs at Life on the Left - with a special emphasis on the Quebec national question, indigenous peoples, Latin American solidarity, and the socialist movement and its history.

Stewart Phillip is Grand Chief of Okanagan Nation and president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

Serge ‘Otsi’ Simon is Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake.

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🌳 To share or not to share?
« Reply #372 on: November 24, 2018, 12:44:46 AM »

 To share or not to share?

Tribes risk exploitation when sharing climate change solutions.

By Paola Rosa-Aquino   on Nov 21, 2018

The Saint Regis Mohawk Reservation stretches for 25 square miles along the United States’ border with Canada. Akwesasne, as the land in Upstate New York is also known, translates roughly to “land where the partridge drums.” Nestled at the confluence of the Saint Lawrence River and several small tributaries, including the St. Regis and Raquette rivers, this ecologically rich environment consists of more than 3,000 acres of wetlands along riverbanks, islands, and inlets.

But the landscape can’t escape the encroachment of nearby pollution.

Tribal members live downstream from several major industrial facilities, hydro dams, and aluminum smelters. The Saint Lawrence has become an international shipping channel, and its sediments mix with heavy metals from old ship batteries and toxic chemicals from nearby Superfund sites. These pollutants have leached into the Saint Regis Mohawk way of life, shifting the range of flora and fauna on which many of their traditional practices rely.

The trash and toxic runoff are bad enough. They are killing off the tribe’s local fish population and medicinal plants. But now the Saint Regis Mohawk face another challenge: negotiating with the Environmental Protection Agency about how best to tackle these contamination issues while incorporating — and respecting — the tribe’s traditional knowledge.

Native communities are one of the groups most impacted by a changing climate — and many of the human activities that have precipitated it. They are also a necessary part of the solution, according to the newest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Indigenous peoples comprise only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet their lands encompass 22 percent of its surface. Eighty percent of the planet’s biodiversity is on the lands where they live — and it may not be a coincidence. A significant part of traditional indigenous identity is linked to the natural world. “There is medium evidence and high agreement that indigenous knowledge is critical for adaptation,” the 2018 IPCC report states. And that’s due to their methods of managing forests and agro-ecological systems, as well as their traditions passed down through the generations.

Indeed, some in these communities believe that disseminating these traditions can help to address challenges, like climate change, that the world faces. But while the wider environmental community — and the rest of us — may benefit from gaining access to their knowledge, indigenous communities have no guarantee that their cultural values, secrets, and traditions will be respected if they offer it. That potential pitfall is prompting some Native Americans to question whether there is a way to share this knowledge that benefits the environment, as well as a tribe.

“It’s both a risk and an opportunity for indigenous peoples,” said Preston Hardison, policy analyst at the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources Treaty Rights Office in Washington state. According to Hardison, many elders feel that they’d like to help the world heal, but they want their knowledge to be employed in the right way (without any sort of exploitation). For instance, sharing their knowledge about their land and how they use it could be employed to indigenous people’s detriment by limiting their access to it.

Even when the government taps indigenous groups for input, many of the resulting collaborations don’t show respect for the tribal people or the accumulated knowledge they possess. Take, for instance, in 2011, when the Saint Regis Mohawk received an EPA grant to create a climate adaptation plan for its natural resources — their animals, their crops, their medicinal plants. Initially, the EPA called for a plethora of scientific vulnerability and risk assessments to parse what resources were important for the Akwesasne way of life. But tribal members felt the testing was an unnecessary step to get to the heart of the issue.

“We didn’t need them to tell us what’s important to us,” said Amberdawn Lafrance, coordinator at the Saint Regis Mohawk Environment Division. “We already know.”

Ron His Horse Is Thunder, a spokesperson for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, looks over a river during Dakota Access pipeline protests in 2016. Robyn Beck / AFP / Getty Images

There are a lot of well-intentioned guidelines for asking indigenous groups to share their environmental knowledge with outsiders. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that, if you do have access to these communities’ resources or knowledge, it should only be with their free, prior, and informed consent. In 2014, the EPA released a report with 17 policy recommendations for its work assisting tribal groups in protecting their health and resources. But the protocols don’t include requirements to forcefully protect tribal knowledge. Take principle seven, for example:

    The EPA considers confidentiality concerns regarding information on sacred sites, cultural resources, and other traditional knowledge, as permitted by law. The EPA acknowledges that unique situations and relationships may exist in regard to sacred sites and cultural resources information for federally recognized tribes and indigenous peoples.

In other words, the agency will do its best not to disseminate sensitive tribal information relevant to environmental impact. But once tribal information is shared with a governmental body, it’s not always easy to keep it under wraps.

The Department of the Interior approached the Klamath and Basin tribes in 1995 when deciding how to allocate water rights in southern Oregon and northern California. Communities located in the Klamath Basin shared confidential information with the government about their fishing methods and other cultural practices in order to inform the decision. Then the Klamath Water Users Protective Association, a nonprofit group of farmers and ranchers in the region dedicated to maintaining irrigated agriculture filed federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of Interior, demanding that the tribes’ responses be disclosed. When the agency refused, the association took them to court.

The Supreme Court concluded that if a tribe consults with an agency, most of the information provided during such consultations is subject to FOIA. (Hence the EPA’s “we’ll try our best” stance.)

“Ultimately, tribes face a Hobson’s Choice,” wrote legal scholar Sophia E. Amberson in a 2017 Washington Law Review article. “Risk disclosing proprietary information, or lose their seat at the environmental regulatory table.”

For many indigenous groups, losing control over anything from their traditional knowledge, dress, imagery, or even name is an all-too-common story. And it’s not always clear what, if any, legal recourse tribes have when they find themselves in those situations.

The clothing store Urban Outfitters landed in hot water in 2012 for selling “Navajo hipster panties” and a “Navajo print flask.” The Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging trademark violation.

Although the technique worked, and the lawsuit was settled in 2016, there is some debate as to whether intellectual property is the best legal avenue to pursue when tribal knowledge is appropriated by outsiders. One big issue is that intellectual property rights expire. For example, if you publish a book, you typically own the rights to it for your lifetime plus 70 years.

“That’s a blink of an eye for indigenous peoples,” said Hardison of the Tulalip Tribes. “They’ve have had their knowledge since time immemorial.”

Unlike when they’re exploited by chain stores or sports teams, tribal communities stand a better chance to benefit when they share cultural knowledge for environmental preservation or cleanup. At the same time, indigenous people don’t want platforms like the scientists who contribute to the IPCC to become a giant knowledge-mining expedition for Native culture. “It should be about a true permanent durable relationship with indigenous peoples,” Hardison said.

Even though sharing suggests that both parties will also reap benefits, indigenous peoples are concerned the result will end up not meaningfully different from an episode of appropriation at the hands of Urban Outfitters.

In fact, once the indigenous knowledge gets outside of the local tribal community, there’s an increased risk for exploitation, said Gary Morishima, technical advisor at the Quinault Management Center just outside of Seattle. He said he’s heard of indigenous communities getting ripped off through informal sharing relationships. “[Outsiders] try to gain access to their knowledge and claim it as their own,” he explained.

Despite the risk, some indigenous advocates are pushing for tribes to share more of their wisdom more freely with environmental groups. “The time for secrets is done,” said Larry Merculieff, an Unagan tribal member based in Anchorage, Alaska, who is one of the biggest proponents. “There’s urgency because of the plight of Mother Earth. That includes climate crises, complete corruption, the abuse of women, abuse of Mother Earth-based cultures, and wars.”

To Merculieff that means giving outsiders unprecedented access to indigenous practices — even allowing them behind-the-scenes for sacred ceremonies and discussions, albeit via video. He is part of a group called Wisdom Weavers of the World — a gathering of what he likes to call “wisdom keepers” — which has produced 30 hours of films on Native knowledge.

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The trailer for one of the group’s films features elders from all over the world meeting in Kauai for a discussion about the planet’s many woes. Against the backdrop of the Hawaiian island’s luscious greenery, they share instructions for how to live in balance and harmony with nature based on their own sacred traditions. Merculieff says these kinds of discussions are usually kept private, only accessible to those who are primed to understand them. But the elders in the film are now crafting a message to the masses about how their traditional wisdom can help address the world’s wounds.

“We are who we’ve waited for,” Merculieff says in the trailer for the film. “What we know is that the key to this mystery is simply to drop into your heart.”

Merculieff’s project is still raising funds. Though when it launches, Merculieff says he does not expect any pushback from other Native peoples. The government is not doing enough, he said when he chaired the indigenous knowledge sessions at the 2018 Global Summit of Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change. “We knew we need to establish our own ways of doing things.”

Back on the banks of the polluted Saint Lawrence River, the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe had come up with their own solution for climate adaptation. And they were pretty sure the EPA was not going to like it.

Rather than rely on risk assessments to come up with a strategy for the region, the tribe wanted to base their plan on a thanksgiving prayer, called Ohén:ton Karihwatéhkwen, which translates to “what we say before we do anything important.”

“We say it every day,” said Amberdawn Lafrance, the tribe’s environmental coordinator. The saying is so integral to the the Mohawk way of life that it’s the basis for other forms of community planning, such as developing school curricula.

Members created a list of natural resources that they’d prioritize based on what they’d always been thankful for. “We worked backwards,” Lafrance said. “We took the work that we’re already doing and we assigned it under each of the categories,” such as water, fish, and trees, needed to develop the climate adaptation plan.

The Saint Regis Mohawk tribe’s push to have more agency over their climate change plan was unusual, and some tribes are taking it a step further, explicitly spelling out the relationship between their knowledge and the EPA’s expertise. In these “bio-cultural protocols,” indigenous people can lay down in clear-cut terms how their local resources and knowledge should be managed prior to letting it be accessed by outsiders.

This practice greatly limits the scope of what entities can do with them. Tribes can stop governing agencies or other interested parties from commercializing their knowledge or resources wholesale. Contracts cementing these understandings are developed through culturally rooted decision-making processes within the communities. The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing, an agreement closely linked to the Convention on Biological Diversity, bolsters these schemes, recognizing the need to acquire “prior informed consent” from indigenous peoples before using their knowledge.

These arrangements are used widely in South Africa. The Kukula traditional health practitioners of Bushbuckridge, South Africa, for instance, developed a bio-cultural protocol to address outsiders’ unauthorized use of traditional knowledge and overharvesting of medicinal plants. The contract lead to engagement with a local cosmetic company interested in using their traditional knowledge and establishing a medicinal plants nursery — all done on the Kukula people’s terms.

Kyle Powys Whyte, professor of philosophy and community sustainability at Michigan State and a member of the Potawatomi people, believes employing indigenous knowledge systems as part of our toolkit for dealing with climate change and advocating for Native rights go hand in hand.

“I wish that a lot of climate scientists would look at their statements that say that traditional knowledge is important and realize that, when they say that, they’re also saying that indigenous rights are important,” Powys Whyte said. “They need to be supporting what we need to actually strengthen our knowledge systems — not just share with others the information that we might have.”

Due to several centuries of exploitation, it’s difficult for tribes to come to compromises with government agencies. And while putting cultural practices to paper is one thing, getting government agencies to fully understand their value is another. For the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe, explaining their thanksgiving prayer-based plan to the EPA was a challenge — but it forced negotiations about confidentiality of the tribe’s cultural information.

“I think the EPA was trying to be considerate, but at the same time, it’s like they’re not considering all the implications of us letting that information go,” said Lafrance. She said a coworker tried explaining the sensitive nature of what they were sharing to officials over the phone, likening traditional knowledge to a grandmother’s coveted apple pie recipe. But Lafrance felt they “still didn’t get it.”

In the end, the agency agreed to take a backseat as the tribe got full rein of designing their climate adaptation plan to protect their resources based on their traditional teachings.

In fall 2018, Lafrance went to the 75th convention of the National Congress of the American Indian to speak on a panel about tribal climate change adaptation plans. The bulk of the discussion was about risk assessment data and how best to collect it. Then, Lafrance presented the Saint Regis Mohawk tribe’s completed climate adaptation plan that didn’t use a single smidge of data.

“I think that some people were shocked,” Lafrance said. “But some were proud of us for sticking to our guns — and knowing what’s important and who we are.”
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Protect the Water we Drink!  Protect the Air we Breathe.  Protect the Planet we live on which gives us LIFE!


Citing climate change, U.S. judge blocks oil and gas drilling in large swath of Wyoming
The lawsuit challenged leases issued in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado in 2015 and 2016, during President Barack Obama's administration.

Trinidad Drilling rigs are seen off of Way Highway 59 outside of Douglas, Wyo on March 5, 2013. A judge has blocked oil and gas drilling on almost 500 square miles in Wyoming and says the government must consider cumulative climate change impacts of leasing public lands across the U.S. for energy development. Leah Millis / The Casper Star-Tribune via AP file

March 20, 2019, 5:31 PM AKDT
By Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. — A judge blocked oil and gas drilling across almost 500 square miles in Wyoming and said the U.S. government must consider climate change impacts more broadly as it leases huge swaths of public land for energy exploration.

The order marks the latest in a string of court rulings over the past decade — including one last month in Montana — that have faulted the U.S. for inadequate consideration of greenhouse gas emissions when approving oil, gas and coal projects on federal land.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras in Washington appeared to go a step further than other judges in his order issued late Tuesday.

Previous rulings focused on individual lease sales or permits. But Contreras said that when the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctions public lands for oil and gas leasing, officials must consider emissions from past, present and foreseeable future oil and gas leases nationwide.

"Given the national, cumulative nature of climate change, considering each individual drilling project in a vacuum deprives the agency and the public of the context necessary to evaluate oil and gas drilling on federal land," Contreras wrote.

The ruling coincides with an aggressive push by President Donald Trump's administration to open more public lands to energy development.

It came in a lawsuit that challenged leases issued in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado in 2015 and 2016, during President Barack Obama's administration.

Only the leases in Wyoming were immediately addressed in Contreras' ruling. It blocks federal officials from issuing drilling permits until they conduct a new environmental review looking more closely at greenhouse gas emissions.

The case was brought by two advocacy groups, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility.

WildEarth Guardians climate program director Jeremy Nichols predicted the ruling would have much bigger implications than a halt to drilling in some areas of Wyoming, assuming the government does what Contreras has asked.

"This is the Holy Grail ruling we've been after, especially with oil and gas," Nichols said. "It calls into question the legality of oil and gas leasing that's happening everywhere."
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Meteor no one saw coming exploded over Earth with force of 10 atomic bombs

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon criticized the ruling, saying carbon emissions shouldn't be reduced at the expense of workers who provide reliable and affordable energy.

"Bringing our country to its knees is not the way to thwart climate change. We need solutions not grandstanding," said Gordon, a Republican.

Federal officials were reviewing the court ruling to determine its implications and had no further comment, BLM spokeswoman Kristen Lenhardt said.
Trump's war on energy, environmental policies will be hindered by House Democrats

Emissions from extracting and burning fossil fuels from federal land generates the equivalent of 1.4 billion tons annually of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, according to a November report from the U.S. Geological Survey . That's equivalent to almost one-quarter of total U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

Companies paid more than $6.5 billion to produce oil, gas and coal from federal lands and waters in 2017, according to the most recent government figures. The money is split between the federal government and states where the extraction occurs.

Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance, which lobbies on behalf of the oil industry, said the BLM already was analyzing emissions appropriately under rules set up during the Obama administration.

Following previous court rulings over climate change, the BLM has gone back and reconsidered the effects of fossil fuels and then re-affirmed its approvals of projects.

That could happen again in this case, with further studies done before drilling is allowed to proceed, said Harry Weiss, an environmental lawyer based in Philadelphia whose clients have included oil and gas companies.

"This decision should not be interpreted as a ban on leasing activities," Weiss said. "The court is not ruling on whether it's thumbs up or thumbs down. The court is simply grading how the administration did analyzing the issues."
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🌳 The Last Battle
« Reply #374 on: May 02, 2019, 07:32:22 AM »

Apr 29, 2019

The Last Battle
by Chris Hedges

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

THE BEAVER LAKE CREE NATION, Treaty No. 6 Area, Canada. I am driving down a rutted dirt road with Eric Lameman, a member of the Cree nation.

“Over there,” he says, pointing out where he was born in a tent 61 years ago.

We stop the car and look toward a wooded grove.

“That’s the mass grave,” he says softly, indicating a clearing where dozens of Cree who died in a smallpox epidemic over a century ago are buried.

The Cree have been under relentless assault since the arrival of the European colonialists in the 1500s. Now the 500 inhabitants of the Cree reserve, where many live in small, boxy prefabricated houses, are victims of a new iteration of colonial exploitation, one centered on the extraction of oil from the vast Alberta tar sands. This atrocity presages the destruction of the ecosystem on which they depend for life. If the Cree do not stop the exploiters this time, they, along with the exploiters, will die.

The reserve is surrounded by the tar sands, one of the largest concentrations of crude oil in the world. The sands produce 98% of Canada’s oil and are the United States’ largest source of imported oil. This oil, among the dirtiest fossil fuels on earth, is a leading cause of atmospheric pollution, releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide. The production and consumption of one barrel of tar sands crude oil release 17% more carbon dioxide than production and consumption of a standard barrel of oil.

Tar sands oil is a thick, mucky, clay-like substance that is infused with a hydrocarbon called bitumen. The oil around Beaver Lake is extracted by a process known as steam-assisted gravity drainage, which occurs under the earth and is similar to fracking. Farther north, extraction is done by strip-mining the remote boreal forest of Alberta, 2 million acres of which have already been destroyed. The destruction of vast forests, sold to timber companies, and the scraping away of the topsoil have left behind poisoned wastelands. This industrial operation, perhaps the largest such project in the world, is rapidly accelerating the release of the carbon emissions that will, if left unchecked, soon render the planet uninhabitable for humans. The oil is transported thousands of miles to refineries as far away as Houston through pipelines and in tractor-trailer trucks or railroad cars. More than a hundred climate scientists have called for a moratorium on the extraction of tar sands oil. Former NASA scientist James Hansen has warned that if the tar sands oil is fully exploited, it will be “game over for the planet.” He has also called for the CEOs of fossil fuel companies to be tried for high crimes against humanity.

It is hard, until you come here, to grasp the scale of the tar sands exploitation. Surrounding Beaver Lake are well over 35,000 oil and natural gas wells and thousands of miles of pipelines, access roads and seismic lines. (The region also contains the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, which has appropriated huge tracts of traditional territory from the native inhabitants to test weapons.) Giant processing plants, along with gargantuan extraction machines, including bucket wheelers that are over half a mile long and draglines that are several stories high, ravage hundreds of thousands of acres. These stygian centers of death belch sulfurous fumes, nonstop, and send fiery flares into the murky sky. The air has a metallic taste. Outside the processing centers, there are vast toxic lakes known as tailings ponds, filled with billions of gallons of water and chemicals related to the oil extraction, including mercury and other heavy metals, carcinogenic hydrocarbons, arsenic and strychnine. The sludge from the tailings ponds is leaching into the Athabasca River, which flows into the Mackenzie, the largest river system in Canada. Nothing here, by the end, will support life. The migrating birds that alight at the tailings ponds die in huge numbers. So many birds have been killed that the Canadian government has ordered extraction companies to use noise cannons at some of the sites to scare away arriving flocks. Around these hellish lakes, there is a steady boom-boom-boom from the explosive devices.

The water in much of northern Alberta is no longer safe for human consumption. Drinking water has to be trucked in for the Beaver Lake reserve.

Streams of buses ferry workers, almost all of them men, up and down the roads, night and day. Tens of thousands from across Canada have come to work in the tar sands operations. Many live in Fort McMurray, about 180 miles from Beaver Lake, and work punishing 12-hour shifts for three weeks at a time before having a week off.

The Cree, the Dene and other tribes that live amid the environmental carnage and whose ancestral lands have been appropriated by the government to extract the tar sands oil suffer astronomical rates of respiratory and other illnesses. Cancer rates are 30% higher than in the rest of Alberta, according to the Alberta Cancer Board, which was disbanded soon after releasing this information in 2008.

When he was a child, Eric Lameman was taken from his parents by the government, a common practice a few decades ago, and sent to an Indian boarding school where beatings were routine, speaking Cree or any of the other indigenous languages was forbidden and native religious and cultural practices were outlawed. He says the forced severance from his family and his community, along with the banning of his traditions, was psychologically devastating. He remembers his father and other Cree elders on the reserve performing religious rituals in secret. He would sneak to the woods to watch them as, risking arrest, they clung to their beliefs and spiritual practices.

Lameman defied the efforts to wipe out his identity and his culture. He says it is only his Cree roots that keep him whole and make it possible for him to endure. He suffered extreme poverty. He also had periods of addiction and even episodes of violence. It is hard to avoid personal disintegration when the dominant culture seeks to eradicate your being. Canada’s indigenous people represent 4 percent of the population, but they make up more than a quarter of the inmates in the nation’s federal prisons. Lameman’s wife left him and their young children. She died from alcoholism on the streets of Calgary. He worked as a heavy machine operator in the tar sands. He quit when he realized the land he was despoiling would never recover and he began to get sick. He survives now on welfare.

We are back in his small house, seated in the tiny kitchen. His daughter Crystal Lameman, an internationally known indigenous rights activist, heats juniper in an iron skillet until fumes of the pungent herb drift upward. We cup our hands and pull the smoke into our nostrils. The Cree and others say “smudging” cleanses negative energy, helps bring clarity and vision, and centers those exposed to the scent. We sit quietly.

The more the Cree recover their traditions to defy the capitalist mantra of hoarding, profit, exploitation, self-promotion and commodification of human beings and the earth, the more their life has an intrinsic value rather than a monetary value. This recovery is the antidote to despair. It grounds the Cree spiritually. It permits transcendence. It at once estranges them from reality and brings them closer to it. Resistance is not only about challenging the extraction companies in court, as the Cree have done in trying to block the tar sands industry and the pipelines from their traditional land; it is about holding fast to another orientation to reality, one that we all must adopt if we are to survive as a species. It is about the recovery of the sacred. The white exploiters seek not only to steal the land and natural resources and commit genocide against indigenous communities but to wipe out this competing ethic.

“I need my people,” Eric Lameman says. “I need the ones that know our history, our language, our spiritual practices and our culture. I rely on them to pass it on to me so I can pass it on.”

The exploiters have sought to corrupt the Cree and bastardize their traditions. Extraction companies have paid off some tribal leaders to support pipelines or surrender tribal territory to oil development. The companies use the quislings to mount propaganda campaigns in favor of extraction, to divide and weaken indigenous communities and to attempt to discredit leaders such as Crystal. The federal government last year staged a Cree religious ceremony, complete with honor songs and drums, to bless the Trans Mountain Expansion Project and Canada’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline, developments that mean death for the Cree people.

“This is what they call reconciliation,” Eric says bitterly.

“It’s cultural appropriation,” Crystal says. “ ‘Reconciliation’ is a bullshit word. Reconciling with whom? Reconciling what? Reconciling us with the current colonial systems of exploitation? Until they dismantle the structures of exploitation there can be no reconciliation.”

The man camps of tens of thousands of tar sands workers fuel the prostitution industry. Indigenous girls and women, living in squalor and poverty, are lured by the seemingly easy and fast money. Their sexual degradation soon leads to addictions to blunt the pain. This too is a legacy of colonialism. Canada began as a military and commercial outpost of Britain. The Hudson’s Bay Company did not permit European women to immigrate to Canada. Brothels, populated by prostituted indigenous girls and women, were established alongside the military forts and trading posts. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a report in 2015 that found that indigenous, or First Nations, women, who constitute 4.3% of Canada’s female population, are four times more likely to go missing or be murdered than other Canadian women. They are 16% of female murder victims and are the objects of 11% of missing person’s cases involving women.

“I was on a panel in Vancouver,” Crystal Lameman says. “I used the word ‘prostitution.’ A person got up and told me to use the term ‘sex work,’ saying it was a choice. Impoverished and vulnerable indigenous girls and women do not choose to be prostitutes. They are forced into that world. Girls are conditioned for this from familial disintegration and sexual abuse. … Sexual abuse, a common experience for girls in residential schools and the foster care system, is another one of the legacies of colonialism.”

The infusion of workers with disposable incomes has also seen an explosion in drugs in northern Alberta such as crack cocaine and crystal meth, and with the drugs has come a rash of suicides among the native population. Suicide and non-suicidal intentional self-injuries are the leading causes of death for First Nations people under the age of 44 in Canada. Young indigenous males are 10 times more likely to kill themselves than other Canadians. Young indigenous females are 21 times more likely to commit suicide. Beaver Lake has not been spared, losing seven people to suicide in a 12-month period in 2014 and 2015. All of them were under the age of 44, and all were drug addicts or alcoholics.

“There are two roads into Fort McMurray,” Crystal says. “There’s Highway 63 and Highway 881, which runs through here. This is one of the stops for the drugs. The traffickers say, ‘Well, there’s a little town, we’ll stop there and drop drugs there too. A lot of the drug runners are from small towns, from these communities. It is a quick way to make money.”

“Our community used to be safe,” she says. “We left the doors unlocked, even when we slept. We would leave our vehicles running. Nobody worried.”

“It’s dangerous now,” she goes on, speaking of the rash of robberies by addicts. She adds, “You can’t get into altercations. It’s the drugs. They affect people’s mental health. People live in fear.”

The resurrection of the old ceremonial practices such as the annual sun dance, along with the traditional medicine camp, harvesting camps and sweat lodges, is about another way of being, one that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings, including the earth on which we depend for life.

“We are seeing the effects,” Crystal says. “Our cultural practices and language embody a belief system that is the opposite of capitalism and globalization, the lust for money and material wealth.”

“I used to think globally,” she says. “I was in D.C. on the front lines. I was in the climate march in New York. I was everywhere. I traveled internationally. I was at every rally. But I wasn’t here, at home, doing the real work. It’s easier being out there, instead of being in our community. Yes, there is this big black cloud, but there is also another, beautiful side. The women in the community are bringing the ceremonies back. The more we return to the land, the closer we are to achieving holistic wellness. My community is not in despair. We are doing our diligence to be well again. I think about my dad. My dad was one of those people he’s talking about [when he says] ‘I had friends that I can’t trust now because they’re not well because of the drugs.’ My dad was one of those in despair. But he has come back to us and to himself.”
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