In the fall of 2021, 17 federal agencies agreed to coordinate and collaborate “for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights.”
It didn’t get signed in time to affect decisions on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota, but it could make a difference in the federal review of the proposed rebuild of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline across northern Wisconsin.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) referenced the commitment to honor treaty rights in a March 16 letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regarding an Enbridge Line 5 permit application. The letter specifically urged the Corps to consider how Line 5 would impact the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s “reserved treaty rights” to hunt, fish, and gather on the land they ceded to the U.S. government.
Structural racism has played a significant role in Enbridge Line 3’s approval and law enforcement’s responses to water protectors.
Structural racism, as defined by The Aspen Institute Round Table on Societal Change, is:
A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.
Aspen Institute on Societal Change
Here’s a top ten list of structural racism in Line 3 decisions. Got more to add? A critique? Submit them in the comments section, below.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has to shut down by Aug. 5 and the pipeline emptied of oil until the project’s environmental impact statement is finished and treaty rights and other environmental challenges are resolved, according to a court ruling today. According to the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia:
Fearing severe environmental consequences, American Indian Tribes on nearby reservations have sought for several years to invalidate federal permits allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to carry oil under the lake [Lake Oahe]. Today they finally achieve that goal — at least for the time being.
Depending on the results of a pending environmental impact statement, DAPL could be forced to shut down permanently.
Energy Transfer, a leading partner in DAPL, criticized the ruling and vowed to challenge it. The company faces problems on second front, as oil firms are trying to back out of commitments they made to ship oil on a proposed DAPL expansion.
Governor Mark Dayton came out today against the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota, backing a legal challenge by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to overturn the decision of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
In a decision that didn’t seem to line up with the facts, the PUC voted this summer to grant Line 3 a Certificate of Need and a Route permit. Line 3 will add significantly to climate damage and violate treaty rights. Oil spills from Line 3 could damage the Mississippi River and our clean lakes and streams. The evidence shows Minnesota doesn’t need this pipeline; it will only serve to help Canada’s foreign export efforts.
Indigenous and environmental groups have been pushing Dayton to take a stand against Line 3 for more than a year. Now in his final weeks in office, Dayton took a very positive step to stop this unnecessary project. According to his news release, he said:
“I strongly support my Commerce Department’s appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s Order.
“Enbridge failed to provide a future demand forecast for its product, which is required by state law. Instead, the company presented its analysis of the future oil supply from Canadian tar sands extractions. It failed to demonstrate that Minnesota needs this pipeline to meet our future oil demand. In fact, most of the product would flow through our state to supply other states and countries.
The Missouri River faces environmental threats from possible breaks in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Meanwhile, in Aotearoa (the Maori term for New Zealand) the Whanganui River, the country’s largest river, now has the legal protection of personhood status. It requires review of development projects keeping the river’s best interests in mind.
DAPL’s potential threats to the Missouri River remain shrouded in secrets. The federal government has rejected a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request which sought more details. The government’s fear seems to be that someone with access to its analysis could use it to sabotage the pipeline. Yet by implication, it also means that the government acknowledges that if the pipeline fails on its own, significant environmental damage will happen.
Top democratic U.S. Senate leaders are pushing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for detailed information on the steps it took to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), what plans it has to provide clean drinking water in case of a pipeline rupture, and what steps it took to honor the treaty and trust obligations the government has to the Standing Rock Nation.
Senators Tom Carper (D., Delaware), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, and Maria Cantwell (D., Washington), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, have sent an oversight letter to the Army Corps of Engineers demanding documentation about its rushed DAPL approval, including all communications and contact with the Trump transition team and administration.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has prematurely scuttled the environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a move both expected and discouraging. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club and thousands of Japanese protestors have joined the push to divest from the banks backing the pipeline, the Standing Rock Nation is struggling from declining casino revenues, and the FBI investigates DAPL protestors as potential terrorists.
The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is expected to get the final federal permit it needs — an easement to tunnel under the Missouri River — within days, according to the office of U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, and news reports coming out of the state.
Expect this move to trigger lawsuits and more protests around the country. The federal government already is bringing in more law enforcement to the state in anticipation of renewed protests at the construction site. Continue reading →