Water Protectors Lack Needed Legal Help in Court; Updates on Pipeline Leaks; Upcoming Event: Storytelling and Winter Gathering

Hundreds of water protectors were arrested trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now that their court dates are coming up they don’t have adequate legal defense, according to an article in Think Progress. The article, published Dec. 15, starts out:

Trials for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters begin next week, but there aren’t enough attorneys to take their cases. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department lists 264 people who have no lawyer at all, and the 265 people who have been assigned public defense attorneys aren’t receiving adequate counsel.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other legal organizations are asking the North Dakota Supreme Court to allow lawyers from other states  to come and help —  lawyers who don’t have a license to practice in the state, the story said. Meanwhile, many of North Dakota’s private criminal defense attorneys aren’t sympathetic to the protesters, according to the petition filed on Wednesday. Further escalating tensions, State’s Attorney Ladd Erickson filed a motion accusing out-of-state attorneys of trying to bog down the state’s legal system.

Click here for the full story.

Updates on Pipeline Leaks

In spite of assurances from Energy Transfer Partners and others about the safety of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it’s pretty clear that leaks happen. Here are two updates.

First, the story Massive 2013 Oil Spill in North Dakota Still Not Cleaned Up, posted by NBC News Dec. 18, said the spill is “one of the largest onshore oil spills recorded in the U.S.” The spill happened in the northwest part of the state near Tioga, and while it was not near water it serves as a cautionary tale, the story said. It continued:

The company responsible hasn’t even set a date for [cleanup] completion. … Though crews have been working around the clock to deal with the Tesoro Corp. pipeline break, which happened in a wheat field in September 2013, less than a third of the 840,000 gallons that spilled has been recovered — or ever will be, North Dakota Health Department environmental scientist Bill Suess said.

Click here for the full story.

Second, we posted last week on a pipeline spill Dec. 5 that was 150 miles from the Oceti Sakowin Camp, created to protect water and oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. North Dakota officials estimated that more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into the Ash Coulee Creek, according to initial reports. Now, a Dec. 17 article from Fortune says the cold weather has slowed clean up, but also slowed the movement of the oil because the water is frozen. At this point, only about one third of the spill has been recovered.

The story continued:

The incident may serve as something of a rallying cry for groups opposing the [Dakota Access Pipeline], which have said a spill could enter important watersheds and contaminate water. …

The point of release into the Ash Coulee Creek is about 18 miles from where it feeds into the Little Missouri River, which then feeds the Missouri, a major drinking water source, Seuss said.

Click here for the full story.

The Ash Coulee Creek leak and the leak near Tioga both involved steel pipelines that were six-inches in diameter, according to news reports. The Dakota Access Pipeline will be 30 inches in diameter, making the impact of a potential spill much greater. According to the Energy Transfer Partners website on DAPL, “It will transport approximately 470,000 barrels per day with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more …” A barrel has 42 gallons of crude oil, so to translate, DAPL would carry nearly 2 million gallons a day.

We covered similar issues in a Sept. 22 blog titled: Standing Rock Sioux Have Every Right to Worry About their Water.

Storytelling and Winter Gathering, Wednesday, Jan. 25

Wicoie Nandagikendan, a Dakota and Ojibwe early childhood language immersion program, and the Minneapolis Division of Indian Works are co-hosting a storytelling and winter gathering on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 6-8 p.m. at the Division of Indian Works office, 1001 E. Lake Street.

For more information, email Jewell at jewellofthemississippi@gmail.com or call 612-721-4246.


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