Weekend Reads: Trump wall blasting destroys sacred sites; South Dakota poised to approve Oceti Sakowin schools; and more

In this blog:

  • Trump wall blasting destroys sacred sites
  • Native nations can’t afford to lose National Environmental Policy Act
  • Lakota Law Project finds threats of uranium, mercury in surface ground water in western South Dakota
  • South Dakota Senate passes bill for Oceti Sakowin schools
  • South Dakota again kills bill to extent time period allowing Indigenous survivors of Catholic school abuse to sue

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Native Nations Sue the Federal Government to Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) and the Fort Belknap Indian Community (Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih) Tribes) are suing the Trump Administration in the District Court for violating key federal regulations in approving the Keystone XL tar sands crude oil pipeline, according to an email from the Native American Rights Fund, which also has joined the suit.

The 77-page lawsuit asks the court to find the federal permits violated the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the National Historic Preservation Act( NHPA). The lawsuit asks the Court to rescind the permits and prohibit “any activity in furtherance of the construction, connection, operation, and maintenance of the Pipeline and related facilities.”

Some of the arguments this lawsuit makes are similar to the ones that Native nations in northern Minnesota could make against Enbridge Line 3.

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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.]