Dakota Access Pipeline Fight is a Watershed Moment in Tribal Unity, Environmental Policy

MinnPost reporter Ron Meador wrote a terrific piece today analyzing the long-term impacts of the Native-led efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. It notes that the tribal collaboration to protect land and water surpasses the alliance that came together prior to the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn). This collaboration likely will have long-term benefits to Indian Country.

The article also put the project in the context of changes in environmental review policies. (This will not be new to those who have followed the pipeline debates more closely, but it was news to me.) Until recently, multi-state petroleum pipeline projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline needed federal review under the National Environmental Policy Act. However:

… in a shift most commentators trace to the Obama White House, several large pipeline projects have gotten federal signoff under NWP 12, which is administered by the [the Army Corps of Engineers] as part of its authority to protect the nation’s surface waters and wetlands.

Designed for power lines, substations and similar public utility projects, this permit assumes minimal impact from, say, a tower or building whose surface disturbance would be less than a half-acre in size. By approving DAPL under NWP 12, the Corps essentially decided to treat it as a series of small wetland crossings instead of a four-state infrastructure project that will transport perhaps a half-million gallons of petroleum products per day, with high risks for spills and a huge contribution to global warming.

That is a ridiculous and disturbing policy change and needs to be reversed.

Click on Why the Dakota Access pipeline fight may be a turning point in U.S. environmental politics for the full story.

[Update: Well, that’s embarrassing. The original photo that accompanied this post was, in fact, from Woodstock. My apologies. It has been deleted.]

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