You may recall that, in late March, the Standing Rock, Oglala, Yankton, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes won a key round in their legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). In a reversal of his prior decision, D.C. District Court Judge James Boasberg ruled that the pipeline hadn’t undergone proper environmental review. Though logic would dictate a subsequent cease to DAPL’s operations, Boasberg hasn’t taken that step. That’s why, last week, the Lakota Law team joined an Earthjustice-led effort and submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the judge, a strong legal argument that the oil flow must stop immediately.
For a comprehensive picture of the history of DAPL and current legal landscape, check out our in-depth blog, which also features our television ad targeted to the D.C. market in 2017 arguing for a full Environmental Impact Statement.
It’s not complicated. Because Boasberg’s latest decision voids the easement granted for DAPL, it should no longer be permitted to carry oil, at least until we’ve seen an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) compliant with the National Environmental Policy Act. We’ve been arguing for a proper EIS since the beginning, recognizing that — given the oil company’s horrendous safety track record — it may be impossible to produce.
As you know, the Obama administration agreed that a comprehensive review was needed in late 2016, shutting down construction as thousands cheered at Standing Rock during the #NoDAPL protests. Sadly, everything changed when Trump took office. One of his first executive orders fast-tracked the pipeline without the EIS. Then, when Standing Rock took legal action, Judge Boasberg cited an exception in the law allowing construction despite known, potential hazards.
Boasberg’s latest ruling has changed the game again, this time in our favor. In our brief, LPLP Chief counsel Daniel Sheehan argues that if the oil flow doesn’t stop now, the Court will send a perilous message that litigation against the government is “meaningless and tantamount to a bait and switch designed to fool those naïve enough to believe that the rule of law still has efficacy.”
We’re not alone. Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee have also joined U.S. senators including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren to submit a powerful amicus brief. Their legal argument was prepared by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and endorsed by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, both of whom met face-to-face with our team in recent months.
We are aligned with powerful people, and the support you have shown to the Lakota means we can keep fighting nonstop to cancel pipelines and forward justice. The tide may be turning. I hope that if you stay with us, we can bring additional legal victories — and safety — back to our homelands.
Wopila tanka — Thank you for your friendship and your support,
Chase Iron Eyes
The Lakota People’s Law Project
A federal judge on Monday denied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to amend his earlier ruling regarding TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming that a permit issued by the Army Corps was invalid.
Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled again that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, which allows companies to construct energy projects at water crossings.
“The court rightly ruled that the Trump administration can’t continue to ignore the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel pipelines like Keystone XL.”
—Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity
Climate action and Indigenous rights campaigners have for years fought the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which if built would cross bodies of water hundreds of times along its nearly 1,200-mile route from Alberta to Nebraska. TC Energy plans to send tar sands oil along the route, which opponents say would put Indigenous communities as well as wildlife at risk for dangerous leaks and exposure to toxic waste.
“The court rightly ruled that the Trump administration can’t continue to ignore the catastrophic effects of fossil fuel pipelines like Keystone XL,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “Constructing pipelines through rivers, streams, and wetlands without analyzing the impacts on imperiled species is unconscionable.”
The USACE had asked Morris to narrow his April 15 ruling, but the judge only changed his decision on Nationwide Permit 12 to allow non-pipeline construction, such as electrical transmission lines, to move forward.
“Our courts have shown time and time again that the law matters,” said Cecilia Segal, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney. “Today’s ruling makes clear that climate-busting pipelines like Keystone XL cannot be built until the federal government does its job and properly analyzes these projects’ devastating effects on their surrounding communities and wildlife. If that analysis is based on science and facts, pipelines like Keystone XL will never see the light of day because they remain, and always will be, a dire threat to our water, wildlife, and climate.”
‘The industry was on a tremendous roll right up until the last month or two. That reversal is stunning and problematic.’
Cathy Bussewitz, John Flesher and Patrick Whittle
NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board.
In locked-down California, some local agencies that issue permits for new work closed temporarily, and some solar companies furloughed installers.
In New York and New Jersey, SunPower CEO Thomas Werner halted installation of more than 400 residential solar systems, fearing for his workers’ safety.
As many as 120,000 jobs in solar and 35,000 in wind could be lost, trade groups say.
“There are many smaller companies going out of business as we speak,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Up to half our jobs are at risk.”
Leaders are confident the future is bright. But the worldwide slowdown is delaying a transition to cleaner energy that scientists say is not happening quickly enough to curtail climate change.
Even as some states move toward reopening, executives fear diminished incomes and work disrupted by layoffs and social distancing will do lasting damage.
The wind industry is plagued by slowdowns in obtaining parts from overseas, getting them to job sites and constructing new turbines.
“The industry was on a tremendous roll right up until the last month or two,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “That reversal is stunning and problematic.”
Residential solar business has been hit especially hard, Hopper said, with door-to-door sales no longer feasible and potential customers watching their wallets. Deals with commercial buyers also have slumped.
New solar installations could be 17% lower worldwide than expected this year, and wind turbine manufacturing could fall up to 20%, according to consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.
“Pre-pandemic, there were great dreams and aspirations for a record-setting year,” said Paul Gaynor, CEO of Longroad Energy, a utility-scale wind and solar developer. “I’m sure we’re not going to have that.”
Fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal remain the leading providers of the nation’s electricity, with nuclear power another key contributor, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
But renewable sources — wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal — have jumped in the last decade as production costs have fallen and many states have ordered utilities to make greater use of renewable energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Renewables produced nearly one-fifth of the country’s energy last year.
The EIA predicts renewable energy, despite recent setbacks, will grow 11% this year — an indication of the sector’s strong surge before the economy tanked. Meanwhile, coal-fired power is expected to decline 20% and gas generation to grow just 1%.
The setback for renewable energy still has been painful — even in California, where residential solar demand took off due to frequent blackouts and state laws requiring to new homes to produce as much energy as they consume.
“A lot of companies are just trying everything they can to just limp along and keep their workforce,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association.
All 20 employees were temporarily furloughed at Cinnamon Energy Systems, which sells residential and commercial solar systems in Northern California.
“I’m sure we’ll bounce back, just smaller,” CEO Barry Cinnamon said, adding that people might not spend as much as they once did, because their income will likely be down. “Whether that’s months or years, nobody knows.”
Luminalt, a San Francisco solar company, furloughed most of its 40 employees. And when work resumes, CEO Jeanine Cotter expects that projects will take longer and cost more to keep installers safe.
“Think about working on a roof with a mask,” Cotter said. “And think about not being able to pass a power tool to somebody unless you disinfect it before you pass it on.”
Since his furlough in mid-March, Luminalt solar technician Tom Hicks has been collecting benefits but no salary — and he’s worried about mortgage payments.
“My 401k got crushed by 30% just like everyone else,” said Hicks, 55. “How much time do I have to recover?”
Still, there are hopeful signs. The Boston-based developer Longroad recently began a utility-scale solar project in California and secured new financing for another in Texas.
Sunnova Energy International, a Houston-based residential solar and energy storage service provider, is doing more videoconferencing and fewer in-person dealings with customers. But CEO John Berger said, “Our installations are still moving ahead, service is still moving ahead, we still see customers paying us.”
In eastern Kansas, construction has continued at Southern Power’s 200-megawatt Reading Wind Facility despite delayed parts shipments, company spokeswoman Helen Northcutt White said. Sixty-two turbines are planned for the facility, scheduled to go online in mid-May.
The wind and solar industries have asked lawmakers and federal agencies for help, including an extension of their four-year deadlines for completing projects without losing tax benefits. Similar assistance was granted during the 2008-09 recession.
The renewable energy industry’s health is crucial to improving the climate and to a strong economic recovery, said Matthew Davis, legislative director for the League of Conservation Voters.
“These businesses, these workers deserve immediate relief,” Davis said.
It’s important to push for more responsible energy use as the economy reopens worldwide, said Andrew Pershing, chief scientific officer with Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, Maine, which studies climate change and oceans.
“My hope is that we would use this as an opportunity to build toward an economy that doesn’t depend on burning coal and oil and that is more resilient to the climate impacts that are heading our way,” Pershing said.
Flesher reported from Traverse City, Mich. and Whittle reported from Portland, Me.
John Chao created this beautiful photography book and has a chapter about Standing Rock. Check it out. People who were there have their names listed. I am listed there and am very proud to say that I was there, I was a witness, I contributed, and I tried to help in any way I could by waking up my school community on Sacramento to what was going on in North Dakota.
The struggle continues as we battle through a rogue government and a pandemic.
It will always be the artist, writers, and educators who will document and tell the tale.
Two pueblos in New Mexico have some of the highest infection rates in the United States. The numbers are stark. Zia Pueblo has 31 confirmed positive cases with a population of 900 people. And San Felipe has 52 cases with a population of 2,200.
Ravn Air carried passengers, food, freight and mail to more than 120 communities announced it’s ending service to all but 11 villages. Ravn Air sent the message at 6 a.m. telling employees to stop operations that day.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said there are “’incredible spikes” of coronavirus cases in the Navajo Nation and that the virus could “wipe out” some tribal nations, according to a recording of a call between Trump and the nation’s governors obtained by ABC News.
“We’re seeing incredible spikes in the Navajo Nation, and this is going to be an issue where we’re going to have to figure that out and think about maybe testing and surveillance opportunities,” Grisham said.
Indian Country Today Reporters’ Roundtable, March 30
Another Monday. Another tranche of global COVID-19 cases on National Doctors Day. There are now more than 122,000 cases in the United States, resulting in 2,112 deaths. And in Indian Country there are 190 cases with at least 10 deaths confirmed.
The Lummi Nation in Washington state reported the sharpest increase so far this week. There are now 16 positive cases, 12 of them being Lummi citizens, and nine people who live on the Lummi Reservation. Two of the cases include members of the Lummi Business Council. The identified cases are likely to go up — there are 22 more cases pending, according to the tribe’s public health department.
Meskwaki Nation among others in Indian Country with confirmed cases
Weekends are usually days when people take time off. Not these days as the number of positive coronavirus cases continue to grow in Indian Country. Over the weekend, tribal nations reported new numbers, instituted new curfews and organizations asked for more donations to send to both students and community members. Others used this time to connect on social media. In Iowa, a 31-year-old Meskwaki woman was confirmed positive for the virus, the Times Republican reported. She has been identified as Lindsey Johnson.
‘Three weeks ago we were doing great! And now we’re done.’
It’s a sparse lunch crowd at the Bee Line Cafe in Payson, Arizona. Only four tables have guests seated and eating. Business has slowed considerably in the past week says owner Kassie Sexton.“People are not wanting to come in because they’re afraid they’re going to get cooties.” She laughs nervously as she looks around her nearly empty cafe.
The sweeping bill that President Donald Trump signed will help better equip health care systems that serve Native Americans, improve the emergency response time on tribal lands, provide economic relief for tribal members, and help with food deliveries to low-income families and the elderly.
Tribes have been lobbying Congress to help address shortfalls in an already underfunded health care system and to ensure the federal government fulfills its obligation to them under treaties and other acts. While the $10 billion for tribes in the $2.2 trillion package is less than they requested, tribes say it represents progress.
The number of coronavirus cases is growing globally.
On Saturday, 103,321 cases were reported in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making the U.S. the country with the highest number of confirmed cases and 1,668 people have died from coronavirus-related complications.
Italy’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic is the highest in the world, with over 10,000 fatalities.
Updated: New coronavirus cases on the Navajo Nation have increased by 20 on Wednesday, from 49 to 69
Tribes in Minnesota are the latest across Indian Country to fall under a statewide stay-at-home order in the fight to prevent the coronavirus spread.Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz signed an executive order on Wednesday ordering Minnesota residents in nonessential jobs to stay at home. The order begins midnight Friday and is scheduled to run through April 10.
The Senate and White House reached an agreement on the bailout funds for America, the largest in history. The $2 trillion relief package includes $8 billion for tribal governments and $2 billion for emergency supplemental funding for federal Indian programs.
The Senate vote on the agreement is set to happen this afternoon. Even if passed by the Senate, they would need House approval.
Two Arizona tribes in the Phoenix valley see their first COVID-19 cases while the Navajo Nation adds 20 more reports. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community reported its first case and the Gila River Indian Community has two positive cases.
Generations and generations … have had to deal with these pandemics and these viruses, and they’ve also had to get up in the morning and feed themselves, and make things run for society’
Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced a mandatory 14-day quarantine for people arriving from out of state to slow the spread of COVID-19. On Sunday Hawaii Governor David Ing took the action for travelers headed there.
Surgeon General: ‘America … It’s going to get bad’
This morning U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said on national television, “I want America to understand this week, it’s going to get bad.” As if he needed proof, the number of positive cases for COVID-19 listed on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doubled over the weekend. There are now 33,404 cases and 400 people across the country have died.
Zibaaska’iganagooday is the exploding sound in the Ojibwe language and it has a long history of healing
Community song and dance have always been a part of healing and prayer for Native people. In this time of social distancing, however, people are putting a digital spin on these healing traditions. People all over Indian Country are organizing virtual powwows and other social dances via social media as a means to offer hope and spiritual support during the Covid19 pandemic
Swords, rez dogs, Indian Country adventures and more
Bored at home? Nonsense. Practicing safe social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic can also mean opportunity. We can finally catch up on all the streaming shows, Native YouTubers, read all the books we never have time for and listen to all the saved podcast episodes tucked away on our devices.
American Indians and Alaska Natives clustered in camps or on the streets; ‘It’s been a crazy time’
Every major city has a virtual suburb for the homeless. Homes consisting of tents, scrap wood, shopping baskets and cardboard boxes. In shelters, a family dwelling might have a common kitchen and bedrooms with bunk beds. Others may have a large room filled with dozens of bunk beds or canvas cots. Some have dozens of rubber-coated thick pads placed a foot apart in rows laid across a concrete floor.
The number of positive COVID-19 cases in the Navajo Nation has grown to 14, a dramatic increase from the three confirmed cases reported only a day ago.
The announcement came hours after a 55-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen was the first coronavirus related death in Oklahoma. Before the Navajo Nation announcement late Thursday, March 19, there were nine cases confirmed in the Indian health system.
The Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma have confirmed the first COVID-19 related death, according to the Cherokee Phoenix. A 55-year-old Cherokee man died on March 18 after fighting a cold and then contracted the coronavirus disease.
The death of a tribal citizen that has been confirmed is one of the nine cases reported in the Indian health system as of March 19. On Wednesday, the Navajo Nation confirmed its third case, a 62-year-old Navajo man.
The Lummi Nation in Washington state has confirmed three positive COVID-19 cases, according to Tony Hillaire, chief of staff of the Lummi Indian Business Council. This adds to the total of seven within the Indian health system; one in the Portland Area of the Indian Health Service, one in the Great Plains area and two in the Navajo region.
Of the three Lummi cases, one is a Lummi citizen who resides on the reservation. The other two cases are residents of King and Whatcom counties.
First of all, from my home in Cheyenne River to yours wherever you may be, I hope you are staying safe and well. Over my years, I’d come to think maybe I’d seen it all — but not so! One thing I know is that we’ll only get through this period of separation and hardship by sticking together. So I write to you today with an opportunity to help make a real difference that could save lives.
Please join us in telling Montana stop KXL construction now, before it spreads COVID-19 on tribal nations.
As I have shared with you previously, we Native women have been hard at work organizing our communities to prepare for the dangers KXL poses. The man camps that house oil workers were already scary before we knew they could become petri dishes for the virus. Allowing two of them near our reservation just increases our peril.
But allow them, Trump will. He’s cynically using the pandemic to take full advantage of our inability to engage in grassroots organizing on the ground. On March 31, TC Energy announced a final decision to complete KXL, explicitly thanking the president for giving the go-ahead. Three days later, Trump tweeted his happiness.
Though TC Energy has claimed it will follow procedures to limit the spread of the virus, Republican Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts has said that he won’t expect workers traveling from out of state to be quarantined. Meanwhile, here in South Dakota, Republican governor Kristi Noem has steadfastly refused to institute shelter-in-place mandates or close businesses, despite 447 documented positive tests and six deaths in our state.
We must lean on the Democrat, Bullock, to do the right thing. He has, at least, waffled on KXL. On the one hand, he said, “Look — if it’s done right, we can’t take it off the table.” On the other hand, he’s commented that the Department of State failed to adequately consider the pipeline’s environmental impacts, and he’s expressed concern about the threat to Montana’s water from a leak or spill. Bullock has also criticized the Trump administration’s failure to adequately consult with Native American tribes affected by the pipeline — a major reason to hope he’ll listen to us now.
It’s worth noting that KXL has many of the same weaknesses in its design and approval process as the Dakota Access pipeline, which — partially due to safety concerns including an inadequate leak detection system — just had its federal permits revoked by a court ruling. Let’s protect public safety and stop KXL construction.
Wopila tanka — I thank you, sincerely, for your life-saving activism!
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Oklahoma tops COVID-19-related news for Monday April 6, 2020Facebook is where the news often breaks. Families tell their stories, as do tribes.
Monday the Cherokee Nation reported the death of its self-governance director, the first COVID-19-related death within the tribe’s health system.
Karen Ketcher, Cherokee, died Monday at age 70, according to the tribe. She previously worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The nation said Ketcher died of COVID-19 complications.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we mourn the passing of our dear friend, Karen,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said on Facebook. “This is a shock, both to the many loved ones Karen leaves behind, and to the Cherokee Nation as a whole. As Cherokees, we all feel the weight of her loss, which is tragic and too soon.”
This is the tribe’s second death: A 55-year-old man died in mid-March outside of the Cherokee Nation’s health system.
The tribe announced an increase of 13 cases today Monday, bringing the total to 24 cases and two deaths. The tribe’s health system also has 11 ventilators.
The Choctaw Nation also has seen cases increases, with Chief Gary Batton announcing three new ones Monday. That brings the tribe’s total to 18 cases and 1 death.
The tribal nation had its first case March 26. The Choctaw Nation Health Service Authority is waiting for 49 test results, while 49 tests have come back negative.
Meanwhile, the Muckleshoot Tribe in Washington state had two cases as of April 2. Both will be in isolation for 14 days, and contact tracing has been done on both people, says the tribe.
In New Mexico, San Felipe Pueblo last week became one of the latest pueblos to issue a strict stay-at-home order for its community.
Thirty-two miles away is Zia Pueblo. Its leadership adopted similar guidelines in a weekend memo.
Zia Pueblo leadership confirmed Sunday that their pueblo had 11 confirmed cases.
In addition to a stay-at-home order, the pueblo has enacted a curfew that will remain in effect until further notice, according to its memo. Only essential works and those with medical appointments or emergencies can leave the pueblo, it says.
Zia Pueblo also says only two people per household can be designated to go shopping, and they cannot be elders or children. Tribal members can shop only on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
“We are a small, close-knit community with strong family connections. If the “Stay at Home” Order is not taken seriously or ignored, even by one person, more harm will be inflicted upon Zia Members,” the memo reads. “Please, our Zia People, abide by the ‘Stay at Home’ Order. Practice all social distancing guidelines and frequently follow through with personal hygiene recommendations set forth by Public Health experts.”
Joining other pueblos, Zia Pueblo has cancelled all Easter activities, including church services, dances and Easter egg hunts.
This weekend will look drastically different for residents of the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo Department of Health has issued an emergency order implementing a curfew beginning at 8 p.m. Friday and ending at 5 a.m. Monday. Those who do not comply will be given a citation and fined, officials say.
“We are seeing way too many people contract the virus, and we need to step up measures to begin to reduce the numbers,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a press release. “Our health care system cannot manage the growing numbers of patients and those who need to be admitted. We continue to receive reports of people on the road and traveling with families to nearby border towns.”
The weekend curfew does not apply to essential employees. These employees, however, are required to show proof of identification from their employer on an official letterhead to be exempt from being penalized.
Tribe says to keep medical equipment in the region
Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong, Sr. issued the following statement in opposition to the executive order outlined by Governor Andrew Cuomo for taking vital resources and medical equipment away from Upstate New York hospitals for use downstate. A press release said:
“The Governor’s order flies in the face of the life-saving work our hospitals, doctors, nurses and first responders are risking their own health to perform every day. By preparing to send the National Guard to the region to demand our healthcare community relinquish ventilators and equipment, the Governor is signaling his willingness to sacrifice the lives and safety of our family and neighbors. He is creating a dangerous ‘us’ versus ‘them’ dynamic, and he is making his choice crystal clear.”
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Dalton Walker and Aliyah Chavez contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.
I hope this email finds you safe and well. As you have likely heard, the federal government recently passed a $2 trillion emergency relief package to aid Americans during the COVID-19 crisis. We’re so grateful to those of you who sent 13,000 emails to Congress demanding the CARES Act not bail out fossil fuel companies. It worked: the bill was revised — you and others stopped a $3 billion giveaway to oil companies! Other victories in the Act include expanded protections for unemployed workers, coverage for COVID-19 testing, and $64 million in aid to Indian Country. Even under quarantine, you are helping make a difference where it counts.
Chase Iron Eyes talks legal action against the White House.
In the midst of massive shelter-in-place orders, we’re seeing how quickly nature can start to rebound — bluer skies, cleaner water ways, thriving wildlife. Mother Earth is clearly sending us a message: we can’t go back to business-as-usual. The truth is, COVID-19 isn’t the primary reason the oil industry is now suffering. U.S. fracking simply can’t compete with cheap Saudi Oil and renewables. We must let the market dictate a shift to green alternatives before it’s too late, rather than continuing to subsidize dirty energy. Taking Trump’s Big Oil addiction to court can be an important step in severing our addiction to fossil fuels.
In more localized news, my part of Indian Country is beginning to feel the impacts of the pandemic, with confirmed cases near both Standing Rock and Yankton. Though we have no reported cases yet on Pine Ridge or Cheyenne River, limited testing means we can’t be sure the virus isn’t among us. We know that COVID-19 could disproportionately impact Native communities, and we’re remaining vigilant during these uncertain times. We organizers are sounding out tribal leaders (from a safe distance) on how LPLP can support public health in the days to come. Please stay tuned for ways you can assist our efforts on the reservations.
Thank you for your support. Wishing you and your family safety and health,
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Cheyenne River Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the nation, we’re aware that it could have an outsized impact on Indian Country. Relief programs may not provide needed tests and medical supplies for us — or anyone — on an appropriate scale. Please know we are monitoring this, and as my colleague Chase Iron Eyes mentioned a few days ago, we’ll keep you updated on developments. May we all stay safe and healthy.
In the meantime, I write with some wonderful news. Just yesterday, Standing Rock won a big victory in the ongoing legal battle against the Dakota Access pipeline when a federal judge granted the tribe’s request to strike down DAPL’s federal permits!
The judge ruled that Trump’s Army Corps of Engineers must complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) — the much more comprehensive review we’ve all been demanding since the beginning of this movement (and that President Obama required, only to be reversed by Trump). The Corps fell short in three specific ways, according to the judge.
First, the Corps failed to respond adequately to claims by the tribe’s experts that DAPL’s leak detection system is wholly inadequate. Second, the company’s dreadful history of oil spills wasn’t properly addressed. Finally, the oil company failed to account for the adverse repercussions a “worst case discharge” might have on our treaty rights — our ability to hunt, fish, and perform traditional religious ceremonies near Lake Oahe, which the pipeline crosses under.
I was asked by the tribal chairman to represent Standing Rock’s interests at the hearing in Washington, D.C., but I couldn’t go because of Coronavirus travel restrictions. I’m gratified that, despite our troubles, we have been victorious, at least for now.
The logic of the judge’s ruling suggests the pipeline should not remain operational without a federal permit. The ruling actually references both the Titanic and Chernobyl concerning the possibility of human error, and I’m hopeful shutting down the flow will be the judge’s next step. He has now requested legal briefs on that issue.
Please stay tuned, as we hope to share more good news soon. In the meantime, stay safe and please listen to the medical professionals with knowledge about the requirements of this pandemic. We’re all in this together.
Wopila tanka — as always, we’re so grateful to you for standing with Standing Rock and Mother Earth.
Standing Rock Organizer
The Lakota People’s Law Project
Lakota People’s Law Project
547 South 7th Street #149
Bismarck, ND 58504-5859
The Lakota People’s Law Project is part of the Romero Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) law and policy center. All donations are tax-deductible.