Decision delayed (again) on DAPL shut down; Appeals Court strikes down key ICWA provision, and more

In this blog:

  • Judge, Army Corps, play Kick-the-Can-Down-the-Road on DAPL shut down
  • U.S. Court of Appeals weakens Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • ND House passes law mandating Native American history as a part of K-12 education
  • CNN Op/Ed by Rep. Ilhan Omar, Tara Houska: The pipeline that President Biden needs to stop
  • Water protectors blockade Enbridge’s Bemidji office demanding #StopLine3
  • Michigan tribal leaders denounce Enbridge for ‘manipulative’ video about Indigenous peacemaking
  • Enbridge and Frankenstein

Judge, U.S. Army Corps, play Kick-the-Can-Down-the-Road on DAPL shut down

The Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) “won’t be forced to shut down while federal regulators conduct a new environmental analysis,” Bloomberg News reported today.

But that could change.

Last January, a U.S. Appeals Court upheld a lower court ruling that revoked a key DAPL permit, saying the project needed a more thorough environmental review. The decision meant the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to redo its environmental review, which could take more than a year.

DAPL is challenging the Appeals Court ruling.

Left unresolved at the time was whether DAPL could keep operating during the appeals and new environmental review. The U.S. Army Corps was expected to announce a decision in February, but asked for an extension until today, April 9.

Earlier today, a Justice Department lawyer told the court that the government had the authority to shut down DAPL, “but won’t do so ‘at this time,’” Bloomberg reported.

Opponents of the pipeline, including several tribes that pushed the court to issue its own shutdown order, viewed Friday’s hearing as test of Biden’s commitment to Indigenous rights and climate action. Their motion for a shutdown is pending before the judge, who could issue a decision in the coming weeks.

Bloomberg News

U.S. Court of Appeals weakens Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)

A federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional a law giving “Native American families preference in the adoption of Native American children,” a key provision in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), Indian Country Today reported.

ICWA was enacted in 1978 in response to a crisis of disintegrating Native American and Alaska Native families.

The National Indian Child Welfare Association explained why ICWA was needed:

Studies revealed that large numbers of Native children were being separated from their parents, extended families, and communities by state child welfare and private adoption agencies. In fact, research found that 25%–35% of all Native children were being removed; of these, 85% were placed outside of their families and communities—even when fit and willing relatives were available.

As the TurtleTalk blog helpfully points out, the Appeals Court’s decision doesn’t go into effect until June 1, and then only in the Fifth Circuit Court District, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

ND House passes law mandating Native American history as a part of K-12 education

The North Dakota State House passed a bill Tuesday requiring Native American history curriculum to be taught to K-12 students.

The House amended a Senate bill, so it now heads back to the Senate for approval or further revision. The House version requires students in the 4th to 8th grades to learn about Native American history as part of the North Dakota studies curriculum. It requires high school students to learn about Native American history as part of the U.S. history curriculum.

CNN Op/Ed by Rep. Ilhan Omar, Tara Houska: The pipeline that President Biden needs to stop

U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Indigenous water protector Tara Houska co-authored an Op/Ed posted today on CNN urging people to tell Pres. Joe Biden to stop the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline:

As an immigrant and an indigenous person, we see the interconnectedness of climate justice, of structural racism and disregard for human life. Climate change does not stop at the border of a reservation or a state or a country — it impacts us all. The decision to move forward with the implementation of Line 3 is a decision made for the entire world and for all future generations of humanity. Now is not the time to be silent. Now is the time to raise our voices and urge President Biden to take action to stop Line 3.

Rep. Ilhan Omar and Tara Houska

Water protectors blockade Enbridge’s Bemidji office demanding #StopLine3

Photo: Giniw Collective

A group of 11 water protectors blocked entrances to Enbridge’s Bemidji office this morning, “protesting the company bulldozing through Minnesota wetlands, watersheds and Anishinaabe treaty territory,” a media release said.

The Enbridge office sits in Beltrami County, one of the top-billing counties to the “Public Safety Escrow Trust” funded by Enbridge and overseen by Minnesota to pay police for all costs associated with Line 3 protests. Much of Northern Minnesota has heavily militarized, purchasing riot gear, less lethal weapons and ammunition, etc. Law enforcement along the proposed route have billed thousands of hours of “overtime” to Enbridge, with Cass County alone billing 7,500 hours to the Enbridge escrow account in 3 months. Indigenous people and local Minnesota residents have reported heavy surveillance, targeted pullovers and harassment by law enforcement in connection with Line 3 resistance. 

Michigan tribal leaders denounce Enbridge for ‘manipulative’ video about Indigenous peacemaking

Tribal leaders in Michigan opposed to Enbridge Line 5 are condemning a video the pipeline company posted titled: “Seeking peacemaking with Michigan tribes,” the Traverse City Record-Eagle reports.

Tribal leaders and activists from across the state contend the video, produced by a consultant and posted to the company’s website, appropriates Anishinaabek practices to gain support for the company’s controversial pipeline operations in the state.

Traverse City Record-Eagle

This parallels Enbridge’s tactics in Minnesota, where there is strong opposition to Line 3 by Indigenous communities. Last fall, Enbridge ran a series of half-page ads in the StarTribune titled: We’re engaging with Minnesota Tribes and creating opportunities for their citizens and communities to benefit.”

Enbridge and Frankenstein

Reflecting on Enbridge, I am reminded of Frankenstein.

Similar to Frankenstein, the regulators that brought Enbridge Line 3 (Minnesota) and Enbrdige Line 5 (Michigan) into existence have created creatures they can’t control, monsters roaming the countryside threatening destruction.

For Lines 3 and 5, they threaten climate change. They threaten clean water and wild rice. They threaten the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

Little known fact: Those aren’t bolts in Frankenstein’s neck, but a miniature tar sands crude oil pipeline, a warning to future generations: Photo: Wikipedia

Consider how Enbridge Line 5 has taken on a life of its own. The aging Line 5 runs along the floor of the Straits of Mackinac, the narrows where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. A crude oil spill there would be disastrous.

Last fall, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revoked Line 5’s easement through the Straits. Here’s why, as summed up in an article by Grist:

A review by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources last year found that Enbridge has repeatedly violated requirements laid out in the 1953 easement that allowed it to build the pipeline, with infractions varying from not having the required support on the lake bed to inadequate corrosion control. Whitmer said in a press release that Enbridge “failed for decades to meet these obligations under the easement, and these failures persist and cannot be cured.” 

Whitmer ordered Line 5 shut down as of May 12. That should have been the end of the story.

But the Frankenpipeline just seems to keep going.

Enbridge is suing to block Whitmer’s order. It “could be years before a decision is reached,” Grist said. “In the meantime, Enbridge would be able to continue operating without penalty.”

To quote Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: “As the memory of past misfortunes pressed upon me, I began to reflect upon their cause—the monster whom I had created, the miserable daemon whom I had sent abroad into the world.”

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