Regarding the Canadian Pipeline

Pipeline gets green light from Canadian court

Supreme Court of Canada (Creative Commons photo)

The Associated Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved Trans Mountain in 2016 and was so determined to see it built that it bought the pipeline
Rob Gillies

Associated Press

TORONTO — The Supreme Court of Canada on Thursday dismissed an appeal from British Columbia First Nations against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion that would nearly triple the flow of oil from the Alberta oil sands to the Pacific Coast

The court dismissed the appeal from the Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, the Ts’elxweyeqw Tribes and Coldwater Indian Band, effectively ending the years long legal battle over the project.

The pipeline would end at a terminal outside Vancouver, resulting in a sevenfold increase in the number of tankers in the shared waters between Canada and Washington state.

Some First Nations successfully halted federal approval of the project in 2018 when the Federal Court of Appeal said Ottawa had failed to properly consult affected First Nations, which argued that the project would damage their lands and waters.

Tsleil-Waututh Chief Leah George-Wilson and Syeta’xtn of the Squamish Nation will be hosting a virtual news conference later Thursday.

But in February the same court dismissed another challenge by the same groups against the government’s June 2019 decision to approve the project a second time after another round of Indigenous consultation.

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for Thursday’s ruling.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government approved Trans Mountain in 2016 and was so determined to see it built that it bought the pipeline.

It still faces stiff environmental opposition from British Columbia’s provincial government but construction is underway. Natural Resource Minister Seamus O’Regan said consultations will continue as construction continues.

“To those who are disappointed with today’s SCC decision — we see and hear you,” O’Regan said in a statement. “The Government of Canada is committed to a renewed relationship with Indigenous people and understands that consultations on major projects have a critical role in building that renewed relationship.”

The pipeline would allow Canada to diversify oil markets and vastly increase exports to Asia, where it could command a higher price. About 99 percent of Canada’s exports now go to refiners in the U.S., where limits on pipeline and refinery capacity mean Canadian oil sells at a discount.

July is the Month of Good News!

It’s time to celebrate for a second day in a row, because we have amazing news from the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday late in the day, SCOTUS announced its ruling effectively halting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (KXL)! Based on the Endangered Species Act, the Supremes upheld a lower court ruling preventing the pipeline from crossing domestic waterways. This is on top of Monday’s court decision to shut down oil flow through DAPL, making yesterday a truly good day for the environment and Indigenous sovereignty.

Lakota Law

Let’s be clear: TC Energy, the pipeline’s operator, is not going to take this lying down. This is not KXL’s death-knell. So, we need to remain vigilant. For now, the Supreme Court has simply let stand U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris’ injunction against construction while the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reviews the pipeline company’s appeal.

It’s likely there will be further legal wrangling and attempts by TC Energy to circumvent proper environmental review. We can expect the same from the Trump administration, should Trump be re-elected in November. On the other hand, Joe Biden has publicly pledged that his administration will cancel KXL, should he win the presidency.

For now, we can be thankful. Construction of KXL will remain stopped — a win for Unci Maka, our Grandmother Earth, and for our Lakota families here on the front line. We can be grateful that our people will retain access to clean water and a measure of safety from man camps, which might otherwise have spread COVID-19 and contributed to our epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

I thank you for standing with us against KXL so far. We’ll keep you informed of all developments going forward — and I hope I can count on you to stay with us, come rain or shine.

Wopila tanka — My sincere gratitude for your spirit and resolve!

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
Via The Lakota People’s Law Project

More Good News!

I have great news: this morning, District Court Judge James Boasberg ordered the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to be shut down within 30 days! In this momentous ruling, Judge Boasberg found that the Army Corps of Engineers failed to fully consider the environmental impacts of Energy Transfer’s crude oil pipeline, and that there were too many safety concerns to allow its continued operation. While this order only shuts DAPL down for 13 months while the Army Corps completes additional environmental assessments and safety planning, there is a good chance that when the oil is drained in 30 days, that oil will never flow again!

Lakota LawShares in DAPL’s parent company—Energy Transfer Partners—dropped 7% today.

We commend the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and their legal team at EarthJustice for years of dedication and persistence in this struggle to defang the Black Snake. And we are proud of the amicus brief that our legal team submitted in the lead up to this decision. We’re also elated that Judge Boasberg cited many of the questions we and our allies have raised since the beginning of the NoDAPL struggle. First, that it’s simply wrong to conduct an environmental assessment of a pipeline after it’s already been built. Second, that DAPL’s leak detection abilities are so poor it could be leaking more than 6,000 barrels of oil every day without detection, and Energy Transfer’s abysmal pipeline safety record raises that risk even further. Third, that there is no proper cleanup plan for a wintertime spill, when freezing Dakota winters make response the most difficult. Boasberg even went one step further, concluding that the drop in oil demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic makes shutting down the pipeline now less harmful to North Dakota’s economy.

So what comes next? First, Energy Transfer has to drain and shut down DAPL by August 6th. The Army Corps of Engineers then has 13 months to further study potential pipeline leaks and the dangers they pose. This ruling could still be appealed in the Federal District Court of D.C., but our analysis tells us that such an appeal is unlikely to succeed.

Thank you to each and every one of you for your tireless support, and for staying with us throughout this journey.

Wopila tanka — Thank you for standing with us to protect our water, our land, and our families!

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

P.S. This has truly been a week of good news: just yesterday the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, slated to run from West Virginia to North Carolina, was canceled. In a joint statement, Dominion Energy and Duke Energy cited ongoing delays, expected cost increases, and legal challenges from environmental and other groups as threats to the project’s viability. The trend away from fossil fuels is becoming stronger with each passing day, thanks to your activism and the support of so many others like you.

 

More about this:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
CONTACT:
Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association
NCAI Press
Mauda Moran
Great Plains Tribes Win Important Legal Fight to Protect Tribal Water and Treaty Resources
The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Congress of American Indians Fund (NCAI Fund) applaud the D.C. District Court’s decision today to vacate the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Oahe easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline, and to require the removal of all oil flowing through the pipeline by August 5, 2020. This decision ensures that the treaty-reserved rights of the plaintiff tribes – the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe – are adequately addressed, along with any other land and natural resource considerations, in a full-fledged and well-documented environmental review process.
GPTCA, NARF, and NCAI Fund participated in a coalition of Native organizations submitting an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff tribes during the latest proceedings in the D.C. District Court and are encouraged by this outcome. We hope that this decision helps pave the way for full and proper environmental impact studies as well as meaningful consultation with tribal nations that have direct or indirect stewardship over the lands under review. Our organizations will continue to work to ensure that every time tribal lands and resources are at stake, the environmental review processes meet all legal standards and respect the federal government’s trust obligations to tribes set forth in federal laws.
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About the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association:
Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association is made up of the 16 Tribal Chairmen, Presidents, and Chairpersons in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Their purpose is to provide a forum for sharing information on matters of interest to its member Tribes, develop consensus on matters of mutual importance, assist member Tribes in their governmental and programmatic development consistent with their goals for self-determination, and self-sufficiency and provide for effective public relations and education program with non-Indian communities. For more information, please visit http://gptca.net/index.html
About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.
About the Native American Rights Fund:
Founded in 1970, NARF is the oldest and largest non-profit dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and individual Indians nationwide. For the past 50 years, NARF has represented over 275 Tribes in 31 states in such areas as tribal jurisdiction, federal recognition, land claims, hunting and fishing rights, religious liberties, and voting rights. For more information, visit www.narf.org.

 

Good News! from Mother Jones

I know, I know, it seems like there is no good news to be found, but do not give up the fight, here is some good news: https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2020/07/the-atlantic-coast-pipeline-has-been-canceled/

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline Has Been Canceled

Despite the Supreme Court win last month, the energy companies are abandoning the project.

Protesters gather in 2017 at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality Harrisonburg office in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to speak out against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.Daniel Lin/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones’ newsletters.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been canceled, energy companies leading the project announced Sunday, citing “litigation risk” and uncertainty about the financial viability of the project.

The decision to abandon the pipeline is a win for Native American groups and environmentalists, who argued in a Supreme Court case last month that the pipeline was moving forward under an invalid permit issued by the US Forest Service, in addition to presenting a threat to the ecosystem and scenery. The proposed, 600-mile pipeline would have crossed the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail, which runs through 14 states between Georgia and Maine. Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the pipeline companies last month, upholding the permit.

On Twitter, Bill McKibben, founder of environmental group 350.org called Sunday’s announcement “enormous” and thanked the “powerful organizing by tens of thousands of great activists” who opposed the project. Former Vice President Al Gore, who also opposed the pipeline, echoed that sentiment in a statement, saying the move was a “testament to the power that exists in frontline communities across our nation.”  (Activists are still fighting the nearby Mountain Valley Pipeline.)

Energy companies Dominion Energy and Duke Energy announced the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in 2014, and although they had already invested more than $3 billion into it, according to the Wall Street Journal, it would have cost an estimated $8 billion in total had it moved forward. “This announcement reflects the increasing legal uncertainty that overhangs large-scale energy and industrial infrastructure development in the United States,” Dominion CEO Thomas Farrell II and Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good said in a statement Sunday. “Until these issues are resolved, the ability to satisfy the country’s energy needs will be significantly challenged.”

A State of Emergency

We’re in a state of emergency. For months, the Trump administration withheld our COVID relief funding, and now they’re threatening to replace tribal police with federal cops at Cheyenne River, forcing a lawsuit from the tribe. To add insult to injury, the president will descend upon our homelands this Friday, under the guise of celebrating freedom and independence at Mount Rushmore.

We need your help. Please tell the Department of the Treasury and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to respect tribal health, safety, and sovereignty. COVID relief funds must be sent to tribes on schedule, checkpoints protecting our reservations must remain in place, and uninvited BIA police — and Trump — have no business in our territory.

Lakota Law
In our new video, South Dakota State Senator Red Dawn Foster joins me to talk about our showdowns with the Trump administration.

As you know, even when the virus hit South Dakota hard, Governor Kristi Noem failed to institute common sense protective policies. Then she challenged our tribes over the checkpoints, eventually calling on her friend, Donald Trump, for help. That help is arriving.

The Treasury Department has already bullied tribal nations by failing to disburse our CARES Act funds on time. Now, with the pandemic exploding across the Midwest, infecting around 100 people at Pine Ridge, and devastating the Navajo Nation, administration officials are threatening to withdraw our funding for law enforcement and replace our police force with feds if we don’t remove the checkpoints.

And this week, as we close in on Independence Day, President Trump plans to further desecrate our sacred Black Hills with a dangerous fireworks display, literally illuminating Mount Rushmore — the boldest monument there is to Native subjugation. What about our independence? What about our sovereignty? What about our right to live without tyranny in this “land of the free?”

Governor Noem even went out of her way to say there will be no requirements for masks or social distancing at the event, further jeopardizing South Dakota’s 72,000 Native Americans. So I promise you, we will remain vigilant here on the front lines. We will not remove our checkpoints. We will not stand aside or stand down. Will you stand with us?

Wopila tanka — Our sincere thanks for your friendship and your support,

Chase Iron Eyes
Lead Counsel
Via The Lakota People’s Law Project

P.S. Nothing is more important than protecting human lives. Please help by emailing the Treasury Department and the BIA: tell them, right now, to stop undermining our health, safety, and sovereignty. Thank you!

Pipeline Decision

In Lakota Country, and especially here in the Cheyenne River Oyate, we’re now bracing for the worst, because the Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to lift permit restrictions on the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline.

An April decision by U.S. District Judge Brian Morris of Montana invoked the Endangered Species Act to limit KXL crossing domestic waterways. That ruling, thankfully, put the pipeline behind schedule and kept my people safer during the COVID-19 pandemic, but everything could change as soon as next week.

Lakota Law
Photo credit: Julia Peter

Despite recent, somewhat surprising decisions upholding rights for the LGTBQ and immigrant communities, the Court can’t be relied upon to continue ruling in favor of the people — or the environment — with its current conservative majority.

We expect a ruling from SCOTUS before it leaves session — at the latest, in early July. Justice Elena Kagan, who oversees the 9th District, set today as the deadline for submission of all legal arguments. Without her diligent oversight, the Court might already have given the green light. Now, the environmental groups who brought the suit at least have a fighting chance.

But the reality is, we can’t bank on a third pleasant surprise. As I wrote to you earlier this week, oil companies are adept at finding every end-run available to circumvent proper pipeline procedures. That includes tapping their friends in the Trump administration and Bill Barr’s Department of Justice to try calling in last-ditch favors from the highest court in the land.

As you probably remember, KXL will bring two-man camps — temporary housing for oil workers — near to our reservation borders. These destructive dens of machismo endanger our families by exacerbating the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In the age of the coronavirus, contact with pipeline workers could bring even more peril, a key reason why we set up health and safety checkpoints on roads entering our reservations.

So, we prepare again to fight. We’ll maintain our checkpoints at all costs. And, of course, we’ll keep engaging allies from other environmental groups and tribal nations (for instance, we’re already working with a Blackfoot activist in Montana to survey ongoing construction near the Canadian border). We remain vigilant, and I ask that you stay ready to assist us in the likely event that SCOTUS reverts to its troubling pattern of enabling this corrupt, racist White House.

Wopila tanka — Thank you for standing with us to protect our water, our land, and our families!

Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project

Chehalis v. Mnuchin

NCAI Statement on the Negative Decision in
Chehalis v. Mnuchin
WASHINGTON, D.C. | The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) is extremely disappointed in today’s decision by the D.C. District Court in Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin.
Although the Court acknowledged that Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) “are not federally recognized Indian tribes but are for-profit corporations established by Congress under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act”, and explicitly limited its decision to “the status of ANCs under [the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act] and the [Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act]”, today’s decision would result in critical congressional funding intended for Indian tribal governments being diverted to state chartered corporate entities with no governance authority and no governmental duties to tribal citizens in Alaska.
NCAI continues to believe that Congress intended for Title V CARES Act funding to be distributed to Indian tribal governments.
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About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.

Cancel of Energy Lease :)

Court rules to cancel energy lease on land sacred to Blackfeet

 

The Associated Press

‘The Badger-Two Medicine is more than just land; it’s an entire way of life’
Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to cancel a long-disputed oil and gas lease on land in northwestern Montana considered sacred to tribes in the U.S. and Canada.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overruled a judge’s 2018 decision that had allowed a Louisiana company to keep its lease within the Badger Two-Medicine area of Lewis and Clark National Forest.

That area near Glacier National Park is the site of the creation story of the Blackfoot tribes of southern Canada and Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

John Murray, the Blackfeet’s tribal historic preservation officer, said the court’s decision will close a “long and painful chapter in the history of our people.”

“These leases should never have been issued in the first place,” Murray said. “Today’s ruling shows that these companies and their lawyers were not just on the wrong side of history but were also on the wrong side of the law when they waged their 40-year crusade to drill our ancestral land.”

“Our traditional practices and traditional lands are the firm ground underfoot that we need to push off into the future,” said Tyson Running Wolf. Running Wolf is a Montana state legislator, former Blackfeet Tribal Business Council member, hunting outfitter and leader among Blackfeet traditionalists. “This is how we heal ourselves, how we heal our communities, how we move forward into success. The Badger-Two Medicine is more than just land; it’s an entire way of life.”

Tim Preso, Earthjustice attorney, argued the case on behalf of intervenors including Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, Pikuni Traditionalist Association, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Montana Wilderness Association, National Parks Conservation Association and The Wilderness Society. These organizations have since joined the Blackfeet Nation in calling for permanent protection of the Badger-Two Medicine.

The lease owned by Solenex LLC was the last active exploratory lease of about 45 issued in the Badger-Two Medicine area since the 1980s.

“We’re obviously very disappointed in the panel’s decision today, particularly their refusal to engage with any of the arguments we raised on appeal,” said David McDonald, attorney for Solenex, which is owned by Sidney Longwell. “We fully intend on continuing to fight for Solenex and the Longwell family, and we’re currently considering all available avenues to do so.”

The company has held the lease for more than 30 years. It had not yet drilled because of bureaucratic delays within the U.S. departments of Interior and Agriculture, prompting the company to sue in 2013.

The U.S. government canceled the lease in 2016, saying a proper environmental analysis had not been conducted, a decision Solenex challenged. A federal judge sided with the company in 2018, saying the long amount of time between the lease being issued and canceled violated federal law.

The three-judge appellate panel ruled the judge’s findings were wrong and that the the government had considered Solenex’s interests.

“Delay by itself is not enough to render the lease cancellation arbitrary or capricious,” the ruling said.

NCAI. org Resource

http://www.ncai.org/COVID-19

NCAI has an unwavering commitment to continue supporting Indian Country, no matter the challenges that stand in our way. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, we are advancing policies and protections that will serve us beyond the pandemic. In addition, we want to provide financial assistance where it’s needed the most. If you haven’t already, please visit our COVID-19 website at ncai.org/COVID-19. On the site under the “Get Involved” tab, you’ll find a link to apply for COVID-19 relief funding. This funding can be used as you see fit, to ensure you can respond to and recover from this pandemic. If your tribal nation or a non-profit organization in your community needs assistance, we encourage you to apply. This website also serves as a resource hub to stay informed on all legislative matters, news, events, and reliable health-related information, including COVID-19 statistics specific to Indian Country.
In addition, NCAI encourages tribal nations to remain active in the fight for racial equity. We frequently express our commitment by consistently partnering with a number of national partners, such as with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, on the issues that matter most to communities of color. We also believe that public education and personal wellness are two additional components to consider. We encourage you to consider developing astrategy for building non-Native allies so that we can have a unified voice in our cries for justice. We also encourage you all to take a moment and check in with yourselves, your families, and your communities to create spaces for prayer and healing. The Native Wellness Institutehas an ongoing series of workshops, activities, and resources to get you started.
I call on you as leaders to come together and rise to the occasion. We must turn this crisis into an opportunity to shape the future for the next seven generations. We can do this together. Please do not hesitate to reach out to any of your NCAI Board representatives and NCAI staff members so we can learn more about how NCAI can best support you.
Siokwil,
Fawn R. Sharp (Quinault Indian Nation)
NCAI President

 

COVID-19 in Indian Country

https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/indian-country-s-covid-19-syllabus-EiN-p5Q-XkW-smnaebJV6Q

Indian Country Today COVID-19 tracker, data, story summaries, lists of closures, resources
Indian Country Today

COVID Tracker - June 10, 2020

As of June 10, 2020 11:45 am EDT in the Indian health system (spreadsheet).

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Confirmed by tribes, tribal health clinics, urban Indian programs, the Indian Health Service, state public health agencies or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Indian Country Today needs your help to gather positive COVID-19 cases and deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal community.

Let us know if there are any confirmed positive COVID-19 cases or deaths related to COVID-19 in your tribal nation or announced by your tribal nation. Submit the case(s) in the Google Form above.

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c19T-Headline-CDC (1)

Total cases: 1,256,421
Total deaths: 110,925

As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT

c19T-Headline-Worldwide (1)

Total cases confirmed: 7,145,539
Deaths: 408,025
Countries: 216

As of June 10, 2020 at 12:45pm EDT
 by the World Health Organization

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Explanation stories

Coronavirus. A person watches live data reporting the worldwide spread of Coronavirus as the UK continues in lockdown. Picture date: Monday March 30, 2020. A total of 1,228 patients are reported to have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire URN:53238940 (Press Association via AP Images)
(Press Association via AP Images)

The power of data to predict where the coronavirus will hit next

Just like a massive evacuation can save lives in a Category 4 hurricane, social distancing and shuttered workplaces can slow the rate at which the virus spreads.

China or Italy? A stark contrast on the coronavirus front
Thursday was a day of contrasts on the front lines of the battle against the new coronavirus. In a sign of hope, the Chinese city of Wuhan reported no new homegrown infections, but in a stark warning for the world, Italy appeared set to surpass China’s death toll from the virus.

The two milestones were a dramatic illustration of how much the global outbreak has pivoted toward Europe and the United States. They also showed how the arc of contagion can vary in different nations, as Italy with 60 million people braces to see more carnage than China, a nation of 1.4 billion.

The science: How coronavirus spreads from person to person
Each infected person spreads to two or three others on average, researchers estimate. It spreads more easily than flu but less than measles, tuberculosis or some other respiratory diseases

Coronavirus Q&A: What is it? The symptoms. And how it spreads
An explainer of every frequently asked question in relation to COVID-19.

c19T-Headline-Resource-Center

Are you a Native student whose college or university has been closed or switched to online classes? Visit this spreadsheet for resources involving technology in Native communities. It is updated by San Juan College’s Native American Center.