‘Major Victory’: Landowner’s Legal Challenge Halts Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana

Faced with a new state law that effectively criminalized peaceful protests of pipelines, activists have put their bodies and freedom on the line to oppose the Bayou Bridge project in Louisiana. (Photo: L’eau Est La Vie Camp/Facebook)

By Jessica Corbett

In a “major victory” for local landowners and pipeline activists who are fighting to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the company behind the project agreed to halt construction on a patch of private property just ahead of a court hearing that was scheduled for Monday morning.

The path of the 163-mile pipeline runs through Atchafalaya Basin, the nation’s largest wetland and swamp. Local landowners and activists have raised alarm about the threat the pipeline poses to regional water resources, wildlife, and communities.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land.”  —L’eau Est La Vie Camp

Peter Aaslestad, one of several co-owners of undeveloped marshland, filed an injunction in July alleging that the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) was clearing trees and trenching on his property without permission. ETP—which is also behind the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline—claims it has the right to the use property through expropriation, a process used to take private land for public benefit.

Monday’s agreement “essentially gives us everything we would have asked for with [the injunction] request and argued for in our hearing,” Misha Mitchell, a lawyer for Aaslestad and Atchafalaya Basinkeeperexplained in a Facebook video. “The company has voluntarily agreed to cease entering onto the property and to stop all construction activities on the property.”

A court hearing for the expropriation battle is scheduled for Nov. 27, meaning the company will not meet its initial deadline of completing construction by October.

“This represents a significant victory for the conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and for the rights of private landowners who lawfully resist their property being seized for private gain,” Aaslestad said in a statement.

A collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L’eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—celebrated the agreement as validation of their ongoing efforts to kill the project.

“We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land,” the group wrote on Facebook Monday. “While this is a major victory, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline continues in other parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. We won’t stop until completely shut down the Bayou Bridge Pipeline.”

Protests have continued even as state lawmakers have enacted legislation that effectively criminalizes peaceful protests of “critical infrastructure,” including pipeline projects. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, three kayaktivists who oppose Bayou Bridge were detained by private security, then arrested and charged with felonies under the new law.

The Times-Picayune reports that “at least 12 activists protesting the pipeline on Aaslestad’s property have been arrested” under the law, which took effect Aug. 1, but the district attorney “has not yet decided whether to prosecute the protesters.”

Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who is volunteering as an attorney for the protesters, said they were all detained by private security before being arrested, explaining that “because they were on private property at the invitation of the owner, it’s not clear that [ETP] had any right to do what they were doing, or have people arrested.”

Published on September 10, 2018 by 
Advertisements

Greenpeace wants Dakota Access racketeering suit dismissed

Protesters march along the pipeline route during a protest against the Dakota Access pipeline near  Standing Rock, North Dakota. REUTERS

BISMARCK, N.D. — The lone remaining environmental group facing racketeering accusations by the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline has asked a federal judge to be dismissed from the case.

Greenpeace attorneys on Tuesday filed documents arguing that revised allegations by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act are “generalized and implausible.”

ETP initially sued Greenpeace, Earth First and BankTrack last year for up to $1 billion, alleging they worked to undermine the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now shipping North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois. The lawsuit alleged the groups interfered with company business, facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism, incited violence, targeted financial institutions that backed the project, and violated defamation and racketeering laws. The groups maintained the lawsuit was an attack on free speech.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson this summer dismissed both BankTrack and Earth First as defendants. In July, he denied a motion by Greenpeace to be dismissed, as well, but he also ordered ETP to revise the lawsuit that he said contained vague claims. Company lawyers did so last month.

Greenpeace attorneys maintain that “ETP has utterly failed to follow the court’s direction,” and that the amended lawsuit “contains much the same inflammatory, insubstantial language” as before.

ETP spokeswoman Vicki Granado declined comment, citing company policy against commenting on active litigation.

Company lawyers on Tuesday asked Wilson to reconsider his late August order that the company identify 20 unnamed individual defendants in its lawsuit within a month or have them dismissed as defendants. ETP wants the opportunity to gather more evidence to properly identify the people that it alleges played a role in inciting a massive protest against the pipeline while it was being built.

Protests by groups and American Indian tribes who feared environmental harm resulted in 761 arrests in southern North Dakota over a six-month span beginning in late 2016.

ETP also is suing five named individual defendants: two Iowa women who have publicly claimed to have vandalized the pipeline; two people associated with the Red Warrior Camp, a protest group alleged to have advocated aggressive tactics such as arson; and Virginia resident Charles Brown, who the company alleges is “a pipeline campaigner for Greenpeace” and specializes in interfering with ETP projects including the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.

Brown filed an affidavit Tuesday stating he began working for Greenpeace after the Dakota Access protests and that “I have never lived in or travelled to North Dakota.”

Greenpeace attorneys called the inclusion of Brown as a defendant “baffling” and “possibly sanctionable.”

By Blake Nicholson – The Associated Press

Source: Nationalpost.com

North Dakota’s Bill for Policing Pipeline Protest now at $39 Million

(Photo by Angus Mordant/Groundtruth)

North Dakota’s bill for policing protests of the Dakota Access pipeline continues to rise.

The North Dakota Emergency Commission is set to borrow an additional $5 million Monday to cover law enforcement costs. That will bring the total line of credit from the state-owned bank of North Dakota to $39 million.

State Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong says 11 states provided law enforcement help to North Dakota, and some bills are only now arriving.

The $3.8 billion pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners began moving oil from North Dakota to a distribution point in Illinois in June, after months of protests.

The Emergency Commission also is set to approve a $10 million federal grant to help pay state law enforcement bills related to the protests.

The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

Oil Giant Allegedly Hired International Counter-Terrorist Military Group to Fight Natives

Conor Varela Handley – Water protectors were under constant surveillance and harassment from the perimeters of their camps, day and night.

‘The Intercept’ posts internal memos by TigerSwan, an international counter-terrorist military group, allegedly hired by Energy Transfer Partners

May 29, 2017

The revelations posted by the investigative-news website The Intercept on Saturday May 27 did not come as much of a surprise to water protectors who spent time on the front lines or at the camps near Standing Rock in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). In fact the allegations of intense surveillance by private contractor TigerSwan, as if water protectors were terroristic jihadists rather than peaceful, prayerful protesters upholding the right to clean water, validated the experience of those people on the ground last summer and fall.

“While in the #OcetiSakowin camps, we knew that these counter intelligence and movement disruption tactics were being used,” said Dallas Goldtooth, the Keep It in the Ground organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement on Facebook. “Our devices would stop working for periods of time, hard drives would be cleared of information and footage, and from time to time camp security would identify infiltrators inside the camp who were working for Energy Transfer Partners.”

Over the course of the months-long protest, thousands of people descended upon land adjacent to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to express their support for a change in route for the DAPL so that it would not pass within a half mile of the reservation or be routed through treaty land. Met with militarized police and private security forces, they were beset by dogs, shot with water cannons in subfreezing temperatures, and bombarded by rubber bullets and concussion grenades, some of which resulted in severe injuries.

Now, based on an exhaustive review of hundreds of documents, e-mails and reports, The Intercept alleges that TigerSwan, a private security company hired by DAPL builder Energy Transfer Partners, worked closely with authorities in several states, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other agencies, to pursue ETP’s corporate agenda. Their goal was to not only stifle opposition but also infiltrate and discredit the movement, terming it dangerously religious.

“The leaked materials not only highlight TigerSwan’s militaristic approach to protecting its client’s interests but also the company’s profit-driven imperative to portray the nonviolent water protector movement as unpredictable and menacing enough to justify the continued need for extraordinary security measures,” reported Alleen Brown, Will Parrish and Alice Speri in The Intercept. The site alleges that internal TigerSwan documents were sent by a whistleblower. The trove of internal memos includes “detailed summaries of the previous day’s surveillance targeting pipeline opponents, intelligence on upcoming protests, and information harvested from social media. The documents also provide extensive evidence of aerial surveillance and radio eavesdropping, as well as infiltration of camps and activist circles.”

TigerSwan did not respond to requests for comment from ICMN. Energy Transfer Partners issued a terse statement to a request for a response.

“The safety of our employees and the communities in which we live and work is our top priority,” wrote ETP spokesperson Vicki Granado in a statement e-mailed to ICMN. “In order to ensure that, we do have security plans in place, and we do communicate with law enforcement agencies as appropriate. Beyond that we do not discuss details of our security efforts.”

Below are ten of the most shocking allegations from The Intercept, a website founded in 2013 by journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, after they helped bring forth disclosures by Edward Snowden, the National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower, of extensive surveillance of individuals across the U.S. The Intercept’s full report contains much more, including links to downloadable originals of several of the documents cited. In addition, the story says, more coverage is in the works.

TigerSwan portrayed NoDAPL as a religious movement, akin to a jihad.

According to The Intercept, TigerSwan went so far as to compare water protectors with fundamentalist Muslims, calling the movement “an ideologically driven insurgency with a strong religious component” and alluding to Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of tactics.

TigerSwan worked against the water protectors as if they were jihadists.

Although the water protectors were unarmed, TigerSwan used tactics more often deployed against suicide bombers and violent protesters. TigerSwan infiltrated the water protectors’ ranks, trolled social media accounts for information and conducted helicopter and drone surveillance of activity far from DAPL construction sites.

People of Middle Eastern descent at the camps were identified and tracked closely as potential links to international terrorism.

TigerSwan, according to documents obtained by The Intercept, paid special attention to water protectors of Middle Eastern descent, in particular Haithem El-Zabri, a Palestinian-American activist.

“As indigenous people, Palestinians stand in solidarity with other indigenous people and their right to land, water, and sovereignty,” a shocked El-Zabri told The Intercept. “To insinuate that our assumed faith is a red flag for terrorist tactics is another example of willful ignorance and the establishment’s continued attempts to criminalize nonviolent protest and justify violence against it.”

They shadowed people of interest, from water protectors to at least one reporter.

An inkling of this seeped out when The Guardian reported earlier this year that counterterrorism experts had attempted to contact water protectors long after they had left Standing Rock. Upon reading The Intercept’s report, water protector Kandi Mossett, also of the Indigenous Environmental Network, posted photos of an alleged bugging device that had been found in a room of the Prairie Knights Hotel and Casino on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, where many water protectors were housed. TigerSwan was especially interested in activist Cody Hall, who was shadowed constantly and was the subject of much communication, according to the documents obtained and posted by The Intercept. And it was not lost on him.

“It was obvious—they were driving in trucks, SUVs, they would be right behind me, right next to me … it was like, damn, man, it’s like you’re getting an escort,” said Hall to The Intercept. “That was always the scary thing: How did they know that I was coming?”

The intense surveillance continued even after Hall’s September arrest and release on bail.

“In a deliberate show of force, four units surrounded my car. Each car had three to four officers to take me into custody,” Hall said in a statement last fall after spending a weekend in jail. “Their intimidation tactics continued when we arrived at the Morton County Jail. Eight officers were waiting for me when the elevator door opened.”

Security forces had infiltrators working for them.

Infiltrators, allegedly using fake names, were reported as trying to gain trust and insinuate themselves into positions of influence at the camps. The documents convey the sense that these agents reported back to TigerSwan regularly. One October 3 TigerSwan dispatch discusses ways to pit camp residents against one another along classic lines: native versus non-natives and protectors campaigning for peaceful action against those arguing for more aggressive actions. All such infiltrations were a part of “our effort to delegitimize the anti-DAPL movement.”

The effort extended beyond the water protector camps at Standing Rock, with monitoring of activity in all four states that the pipeline passes through.

The security contractor planted fake social media pushback on social media accounts.

As the U.S. was consumed by reports of “fake news,” TigerSwan put out some of its own, planting fake assertions on social media.

In keeping with the religious theme, TigerSwan saw the dispersal of the protectors as a diaspora that needs to be tracked and contained.

TigerSwan said the water protector movement had “generally followed the jihadist insurgency model while active,” and predicted that “we can expect the individuals who fought for and supported it to follow a post-insurgency model after its collapse.”

They think the NoDAPL movement has imploded, and that they were responsible.

“While we can expect to see the continued spread of the anti-DAPL diaspora … aggressive intelligence preparation of the battlefield and active coordination between intelligence and security elements are now a proven method of defeating pipeline insurgencies,” TigerSwan said in a memo quoted by The Intercept.

They refer to the water protector camps and associated movements in militaristic terms and display an unnerving level of hostility.

TigerSwan terms the camps “the battlespace” and characterizes the water protectors’ actions at DAPL construction sites as criminal and a national security threat.

They are still at it.

Even though the camps have dissipated, surveillance was still intense. As recently as May 4 an alleged internal memo “describes an effort to amass digital and ground intelligence,” The Intercept revealed.

Such revelations only corroborated the water protectors’ experience.

“Now the evidence of this is coming to bear,” said Goldtooth in his Facebook statement. “This proof also tells us more about the militarization of the police and the violence they imposed on Water Protectors. By comparing Indigenous Peoples and civilians to Jihadist Terrorists, police and security were essentially given permission to carry out war-like tactics on Water Protectors—and perpetrate ongoing suppression of peaceful voices dedicated to the defense of water.”

[SOURCE]

Dakota Access Pipeline Could Start Flowing Oil Within Weeks

This aerial photo shows the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D.

This aerial photo shows the Oceti Sakowin camp, where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access pipeline on federal land, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, in Cannon Ball, N.D.

  • Oil could be flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline in less than two weeks, according to court documents filed by developer Energy Transfer Partners.

By Black Powder | RPM Staff, Feb 24, 2017

The Texas-based company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline says oil could be flowing in less than two weeks.

The Washington Times reportsAttorneys for Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) said in a court-ordered status report Thursday that the final 1,100-foot section is nearly finished, which would enable the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline to begin operations months ahead of previous estimates.

“Dakota Access reports that the pilot hole is complete,” said the report filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. “The company is currently reaming the hole — i.e., making it larger in order to accept the pipe. As of now, Dakota Access estimates and targets that the pipeline will be complete and ready to flow oil anywhere between the week of March 6, 2017 and April 1, 2017.”

According to The Associated Press, the work under the Missouri River reservoir is the last stretch of the pipeline that will move oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. ETP got permission for the lake work last month from the pro-energy Trump administration, though Native American tribes continue fighting the project in court.

The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes say the pipeline threatens their drinking water, cultural sites and ability to practice their religion, which depends on pure water.

The tribes have also asked for “meaningful pre-decisional government-to-government consultation.”

This aerial photo provided the Morton County Sheriff's Department shows the closed Dakota Access pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, ND, on Thursday. (Uncredited)

This aerial photo provided the Morton County Sheriff’s Department shows the closed Dakota Access pipeline protest camp near Cannon Ball, ND, on Thursday. (Uncredited)

Protesters cleared from camp blocking last section of pipeline

Yesterday, dozens of people were arrested as police in full riot gear cleared the Oceti Sakowin camp where opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline had gathered for the better part of a year.

RELATED:

About 220 officers and 18 National Guardsmen methodically searched protester tents and other temporary homes for remaining holdouts.

Authorities said they arrested 46 people, including a group of military veterans who had to be carried out and a man who climbed atop a building and stayed there for more than an hour before surrendering.

The arrests occurred a day after the Army Corps of Engineers ordered protesters to clear the camp by a 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline.

Shortly before the Wednesday deadline about 150 people left the camp blocking the last section of pipeline.

Police have made more than 700 arrests since protests began.

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Respond to the Statement from the Department of the Army

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco committed to ensure Dakota Access Pipeline completion

  • Energy transfer partners and sunoco logistics partners respond to the statement from the department of the army
  • The administration’s statement that it would not issue an “easement” to dakota access pipeline is a political action
  • Fully expect to complete construction of pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around lake oahe

Business Wire | December 04, 2016, | 11:05 PM Eastern Standard Time

Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) announced that the Administration’s statement today that it would not at this time issue an “easement” to Dakota Access Pipeline is a purely political action – which the Administration concedes when it states it has made a “policy decision” – Washington code for a political decision. This is nothing new from this Administration, since over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office.

For more than three years now, Dakota Access Pipeline has done nothing but play by the rules. The Army Corps of Engineers agrees, and has said so publicly and in federal court filings. The Corps’ review process and its decisions have been ratified by two federal courts. The Army Corps confirmed this again today when it stated its “policy decision” does “not alter the Army’s position that the Corps’ prior reviews and actions have comported with legal requirements.”

In spite of consistently stating at every turn that the permit for the crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe granted in July 2016, comported with all legal requirements, including the use of an environmental assessment, rather than an environmental impact statement, the Army Corps now seeks to engage in additional review and analysis of alternative locations for the pipeline.

The White House’s directive today to the Corps for further delay is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.

As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.

View the full release here: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161204005090/en/

Army Corps Won’t Grant Easement for Final Section of Dakota Access Pipeline to Explore Alternate Routes

Native American self-styled water protectors celebrate at the Oceti Sakowin camp as news breaks that Dakota Access Pipeline construction has been halted. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Native American self-styled water protectors celebrate at the Oceti Sakowin camp as news breaks that Dakota Access Pipeline construction has been halted. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Pipeline opponents celebrate as governor calls move “a serious mistake.”

By Red Power Media, Staff | Dec 04, 2016

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has decided it won’t grant an easement for construction on the final section of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Energy Transfer Partners $3.8 billion underground oil pipeline project is largely complete except for the segment underneath Lake Oahe.

The Army Corps decision is a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and thousands of demonstrators across the country who flocked to North Dakota in protest of the Dakota Access pipeline.

The route has been the subject of months of protests by the tribe and others, who have argued the pipeline threatens a water source and cultural sites.

According to Star Tribune, Corps spokeswoman Moria Kelley said in a news release Sunday that the administration will not allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir where construction had been on hold.

Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy said her decision was based on the need to “explore alternate routes” for the pipeline’s crossing.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in a statement that the Corps’ decision “is a serious mistake,” “prolongs the serious problems” that law enforcement faces and “prolongs the dangerous situation” of people camping in cold, snowy conditions.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners previously said it was unwilling to reroute the project.

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

“Our prayers have been answered,” National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby said in a statement. “This isn’t over, but it is enormously good news. All tribal peoples have prayed from the beginning for a peaceful solution, and this puts us back on track.”

The Army Corps says it intends to issue an Environmental Impact Statement with “full public input and analysis.”

“Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline,” tribal Chairman, David Archambault II said in a statement. “Instead, the Corps will be undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternatives routes. We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing.”

Archambault II said the tribe welcomed the decision, but he also sounded a note of caution saying he hoped the incoming Donald Trump administration would “respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point.”

Archambault II went on:

“When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes. Treaties are paramount law and must be respected, and we welcome dialogue on how to continue to honor that moving forward. We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples.”

NBC News reports, North Dakota Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer says that the Army Corps’ decision not to grant an easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline is “a very chilling signal” for the future of infrastructure in the U.S.

Cramer said in a statement that infrastructure will be hard to build “when criminal behavior is rewarded this way,” apparently referring to the large protest encampment on federal land and the clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement. Cramer also said that “law and order” will be restored when Donald Trump takes office and that he feels bad for the Corps having to do “diligent work … only to have their Commander-in-Chief throw them under the bus.”

The federal government has ordered people to leave the main encampment, which is on Army Corps’ land, after Monday.

RELATED:

Demonstrators say they’re prepared to stay, and authorities say they won’t forcibly remove them.

Earlier Sunday, an organizer with Veterans Stand for Standing Rock said tribal elders had asked the military veterans not to have confrontations with law enforcement officials, adding the group is there to help out those who’ve dug in against the project.

The group had said about 2,000 veterans were coming, but it wasn’t clear how many actually arrived.

Both the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation occupy much of the western shoreline of Lake Oahe.

Trump’s Stock In Dakota Access Pipeline Raises Concerns

rt-dakota-access-pipeline-protest-1-jt-161124_16x9_608 Al Jazeera| Nov 25, 2016

Trump’s 2016 federal disclosure forms show he owns stock in the company building the disputed oil pipeline.

President-elect Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline, and opponents of the project warn those investments could affect any decision he makes on the $3.8bn project as president.

Trump’s 2016 federal disclosure forms show he owned between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners.

That’s down from between $500,000 and $1m a year earlier.

Trump also owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66, which has a one-quarter share of Dakota Access.

While Trump’s stake in the pipeline company is modest compared with his other assets, ethics experts say it is among dozens of potential conflicts that could be resolved by placing his investments in a blind trust, a step Trump has resisted.

“Trump’s investments in the pipeline business threaten to undercut faith in this process – which was already frayed – by interjecting his own financial wellbeing into a much bigger decision,” Sharon Buccino, director of environment group Natural Resources Defense Council, told the Associated Press news agency.

Concern about Trump’s possible conflicts comes as protests over the pipeline have intensified in recent weeks, with total arrests since August rising to 528.

A clash this past week near the main protest camp in North Dakota left a police officer and several protesters injured.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Orlando Cruz, a Native American protester, said the pipeline symbolises the subjugation of his people by the government for centuries.

“They took our land from us. They said, ‘Here, this is yours, here’s a reservation, you can do what you want on it.’ And we are here in the reservation now, and we don’t get to do what we want with it. And they get to put their pipeline through it,” he said.

‘Pay-to-play at its rawest’

The Obama administration said this month that it wants more consideration and tribal input before deciding whether to allow the partially built pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota.

The 1,200-mile pipeline would carry oil across four states to a shipping point in Illinois.

The project has been held up while the Army Corps of Engineers consults with the Standing Rock Sioux, who believe the project could harm the tribe’s drinking water and Native American cultural sites.

The delay raises the likelihood that a final decision will be made by Trump, a pipeline supporter who has vowed to “unleash” unfettered production of oil and gas. He takes office in January.

Trump, a billionaire who has never held public office, holds ownership stakes in more than 500 companies worldwide.

He has said that he plans to transfer control of his company to three of his adult children, but ethics experts have said conflicts could engulf the new administration if Trump does not liquidate his business holdings.

Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, the senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called Trump’s investment in the pipeline company “disturbing” and said it fits a pattern evident in Trump’s transition team.

“You have climate [change] deniers, industry lobbyists and energy conglomerates involved in that process,” Grijalva said. “The pipeline companies are gleeful. This is pay-to-play at its rawest.”

Besides Trump, at least two possible candidates for energy secretary in his incoming administration also could benefit financially from the pipeline.

Source: Al Jazeera News and Agencies

 

Dakota Access Pipeline Put On Hold As U.S. Army Corps Says More Study, Input Needed

Hundreds of people marched peacefully on Sept. 4 to protest the destruction of sacred sites and burial grounds in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Dallas Goldtooth

Hundreds of people marched peacefully on Sept. 4 to protest the destruction of sacred sites and burial grounds in the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Dallas Goldtooth

Dakota Access Pipeline put on hold as government studies tribe’s concerns

 | Seattle Times, Nov 14, 2016

No easement will be granted to drill under the Missouri River to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline as the feds call for more study of concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

In a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps announced Monday that it won’t grant an easement to allow completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline while it looks further into concerns raised by the tribe.

The Corps announced it would set a timeline with the tribe for further consideration of its concerns, including the risk of spills into the Missouri River, the drinking water source for the tribe and more than 17 million people downstream.

Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas Texas has completed the more than 1,100-mile oil pipeline through four states but for the last stage: drilling under the river to finish the pipeline. For that, it needs the easement to cross Corps land.

The Corps set a review schedule “that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously.”

The tribe has adamantly opposed the pipeline, to protect drinking water and sacred sites in its ancestral lands. Hundreds of people have been camped near the proposed crossing since last April to oppose the pipeline and support the tribe.

Washington tribes, fighting fossil fuel projects, too, have joined in the struggle, traveling to the camps and taking donations.

Energy Transfer Partners could not be reached for comment Monday. The company stated on Election Day that it expected the pipeline to be quickly approved, and that it expected the easement to be in hand as soon as Monday. The announcement was a setback to those expectations.

In a statement Friday, the company said it believes it already has the permission it needs to complete the project, as part of earlier permits. Any grounds given by the Corps for further review “reek of political interference,” the company stated.

If the Corps eventually denies the easement, it won’t be a simple matter of President-elect Donald Trump — an investor in the pipeline project — later granting it, said Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice in Seattle, attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux.

“Do we think they will try to undo any positive decision from the Obama Administration? Yes we expect they will. And we will see them in court,” Hasselman said.

The tribe already has sued to block the project in federal court, declaring risks to the environment were overlooked in the fast-track, piecemeal review of the project. That suit is pending.

The tribe also has demanded an investigation into alleged destruction of sacred sites by the developer within the pipeline easement the day after the tribe recorded the existence of those sites in court documents. “The facts are undisputed and well established that here were sites in the right of way that were destroyed,” Hasselman said.

Federal law prohibits issuance of a permit if a developer intentionally destroys protected sites.

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in a prepared statement Monday said the decision was cause for hope. “It is clear President Obama is listening,” Archambault said. “Together we can inspire people across America and the globe to honor each other and the Earth we hold sacred … not all of our prayers were answered, but this time, they were heard.”

The pipeline was initially routed north of the capital city of Bismarck, Archambault noted, but rerouted by the company in part because of concerns to protect drinking water intakes. The company’s proposed route now crosses within a half mile of the tribe’s reservation boundary and 10 miles upstream of its drinking water intake.

The tribe’s cause has been taken up by thousands of people and hundreds of tribes, climate activists, environmentalists and supporters of tribal treaty rights around the globe. In response, the state of North Dakota and Morton County Sheriff’s Department have met opponents demonstrating against the pipeline with a police force drawn from eight states, and a response including tear gas, rubber bullets, dogs, pepper spray and more than 460 arrests.

Still, the demonstrations continue. More than 500 people converged on the state capitol Monday to protest the pipeline, the North Dakota Highway Patrol reported.

The patrol’s official seal is an Indian in profile, wearing a war bonnet.

[SOURCE]

Dakota Access Pipeline Set To Begin Final Stretch, Mobilizing To Drill Under Missouri River

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access pipeline in September. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Standing Rock Sioux Tribe members and supporters confront bulldozers working on the Dakota Access pipeline in September. (AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Dakota Access preparing for tunneling under Missouri River within weeks

By Red Power Media, Staff | Nov 09, 2016

Energy Transfer Partners, the operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline, is reportedly preparing to start construction on the final stretch of the $3.7 billion pipeline project.

Dakota Access released a statement last night, saying construction is now complete on both sides of the Lake Oahe crossing. The pipeline operator is moving equipment to prepare for the tunneling under Lake Oahe — a dammed section of the Missouri River north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

According to the release, Dakota Access expects to have fully mobilized all equipment needed to drill under the Missouri River within 2 weeks.

Federal regulators have not yet given the company the green light to start construction work. The pipeline operator is still awaiting an easement for land next to the lake, but the company said it “remains confident that it will receive the easement for these two strips of land adjacent to Lake Oahe in a time frame that will not result in any significant delay.”

Dakota Access also refuted a comment reportedly given by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that the company had agreed to slow construction.

Energy Transfer told Reuters that the Army Corps statement was a “mistake” and the Corps “intends to rescind it.”

In September, following protests by Environmentalists and Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the Army Corps asked Energy Transfer to voluntarily halt all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe. But the company ignored the request and pressed on toward the Missouri River, arguing that they had received all the necessary permits and approvals from the Army Corps and did not intend to stop.

Watch Drone Footage of Dakota Access Pipeline Approaching Missouri River:

https://vimeo.com/189876726%20

On October 31, President Barack Obama said the Army Corps is considering a reroute of the Dakota Access pipeline in this area and will let federal agency regulatory processes “play out” in the next several weeks. It remains unclear how the pipeline could be rerouted if construction is already occurring up to the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, has long argued that the Dakota Access pipeline threatens sacred lands, cultural artifacts and will pollute water supplies.

Today, Forum News Service reported, staff from the North Dakota Public Service Commission have proposed a $15,000 fine for Dakota Access for potential permit violations after the company failed to notify the commission about cultural artifacts discovered in the pipeline route in Morton County on Oct. 17.

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Map of the Dakota Access Pipeline Route

Lake Oahe, the body of water at the heart of the protests, straddles the border between North Dakota and South Dakota.

This last phase of construction will join the two already-completed sections of the pipeline.

On Nov. 7, Unicorn Riot documented active pipeline construction that could be seen from the main Oceti Sakowin encampment.

The Dakota Access pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.

UPDATE:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers renewed its call Wednesday, Nov. 9, for Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to voluntarily stop construction near Lake Oahe, citing concerns for people involved with continued protests north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

“We are concerned over recent statements from DAPL regarding our request to voluntarily stop work, which are intended to diffuse tensions surrounding their operations near Corps-managed federal land until we have a clear path forward,” said Col. John W. Henderson, commander of the Omaha district, in a statement released late Wednesday.

Representatives from the Army Corps also have met recently with tribal officials and agreed to work proactively to defuse tensions between demonstrators and law enforcement, Henderson said.

“We again ask DAPL to voluntarily cease operations in this area as their absence will help reduce these tensions,” Henderson said.