The federal government and the Dakota Access Pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer, misled the public, used substandard science, utilized poor technology, and broke the law by not cooperating with impacted Indigenous Nations. That’s according to a new report that also criticizes the Army Corp of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency for not completing a realistic analysis of the environmental damage the pipeline could cause. The report, written by NDN Collective, an Indigenous nonprofit, provides the first comprehensive timeline of the controversial pipeline’s legal and environmental violations. Working with a team of engineers, the report’s authors included new information about oil quality, spills, leakage, and faulty infrastructure that NDN Collective says could be pivotal in the ongoing battle to stop the pipeline.
Dakota Access Pipeline
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier sent a letter on Wednesday to President Joe Biden that requests the end of the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL). Citing the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, Frazier tells the president that the United States agreed “that no white person or persons shall be permitted to settle upon or occupy any portion of the same; or without the consent of the Indians first had and obtained, to pass through the same.” “The Dakota Access Pipeline continues to trespass on the territory of the Great Sioux Nation and endanger the lives of our people with the possibility of polluting land and water. This Project has been operating without a permit for a very long time and is in violation of your laws and our treaties.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not take up a case brought by Energy Transfer, operator of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline operator sought to challenge a legal victory won by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, invalidating a key federal permit and requiring a complete environmental review. “The litigation concerning the pipeline is over, but the fight continues,” said Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman. Earthjustice has represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in litigation against the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2016.“We call on the administration to close the pipeline until a full safety and environmental review is complete. DAPL never should have been authorized in the first place, and this administration is failing to address the persistent illegality of this pipeline.”
A state judge has ruled that thousands of documents related to security during the construction in North Dakota of the heavily protested Dakota Access Pipeline are public and subject to the state's open records law. The Friday ruling by South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland is a victory for The Intercept news organization, which sued in November 2020 to get access to the documents for investigative journalism on the topics of "environmental justice, the treatment of Indigenous peoples and workers, and government efforts to suppress First Amendment-protected activities."
On August 26, admitted Dakota Access Pipeline saboteur Ruby Montoya filed a motion in federal court seeking to withdraw her guilty plea, claiming she was coerced into signing it by her previous attorneys, movement “leaders”, and her abusive father. The motion also claims that government agents may have taught Montoya to use a welder and encouraged her to use it for pipeline sabotage, indicating a possible entrapment defense.
Standing Rock - Today, Lakota youth from the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River tribal nations announced a plan to run over 93 miles back to the Oceti Sakowin Camp site to call on President Biden to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The youth are asking for everyone who stood with Standing Rock four years ago to participate by uploading their own #NoDAPL The oil pipeline poses a grave threat to the safety and sanctity of the tribes’ water, hunting and fishing rights, and cultural and religious practices. Federal courts have sided with the tribes on the years-long litigation and have revoked DAPL’s federal easement required by the Mineral Leasing Act.
Bias lived in the anti-pipeline camps for five months and got seven state misdemeanor charges of their own. Bias has been dealing with the general legal aftermath of Standing Rock ever since, fighting their own charges and supporting the federal felony defendants. As people celebrate the court ruling against the pipeline, Bias wants to remind them that the physical part of the struggle is not over. “We’re still fighting this pipeline, because we still have people incarcerated for the work we did in camp,” Bias says. “People have got to recognize that people are still putting their bodies on the line in prison to stop this pipeline.”
The owner of the Dakota Access oil pipeline is accepting shipments for next month despite a judge’s ruling ordering it to shut down and remove all oil by Aug. 5, according to media reports. In a statement, the Lakota People’s Law Project’s lead attorney, Chase Iron Eyes, and chief counsel, Daniel Sheehan, called Energy Transfer Partners’ declaration that it would not shut down the flow of oil through the Dakota Access Pipeline “unacceptable.” “ETP has asserted that they believe Judge Boasberg exceeded his authority in ordering the emptying of Dakota Access,” they said in a statement. “However, Judge Boasberg’s scope of authority is not something ETP has the discretion to interpret.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline must be shut down and emptied of oil within 30 days while a lengthy environmental review of the project is conducted, a federal judge ruled Monday. The move was requested earlier this year by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and three other Sioux tribes in the Dakotas who fear environmental harm from the pipeline and have spent four years in court fighting the project. Thousands of pipeline opponents from around the world who took up their cause flocked to southern North Dakota in 2016 and 2017 to protest the project, raising the profile of the tribes' fight. Some clashed with police, resulting in more than 760 arrests. "The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and millions of others who fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline showed us the power of standing together against injustice," Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted on Monday. Standing Rock leaders, meanwhile, are looking ahead to the next steps in fighting the pipeline.
Two Catholic worker activists have been indicted on charges for their efforts to try and stop the Dakota Access pipeline. If found guilty, the women face up to 110 years in prison as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Two years ago Ruby Montoya and Jessica Reznicek confessed to acts of sabotage on the Dakota Access pipeline, including damaging pipeline vale sites using a welding torch. The women claimed that the actions were necessary to protect the rivers and waterways that the pipline’s construction threatened. According to The Intercept, the woman reported that they had “no choice but to act.”
For months, the North Dakota Highway Patrol flew daily surveillance flights over the protesters’ camps and used forward-looking infrared (FLIR) cameras to gather real-time geo-spatial intelligence (GEOINT). These thermographic cameras sense infrared radiation emitted by heat sources which give law enforcement the ability to perceive thermal radiation and monitor their area of land operations at night.
In a win for free speech, a federal court in North Dakota recently dismissed a baseless $900 million lawsuit brought by the Dakota Access Pipeline company against Greenpeace and a number of individual protesters. The company should have learned its lesson. Instead, it refiled the case in state court. These meritless cases are textbook examples of “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation,” or SLAPPs. This tactic is increasingly used by corporations to silence critics with expensive legal actions. Protesters and advocacy groups have the right to freely and vigorously criticize their opponents, even when their speech threatens to subvert corporate interests.
Roughly four years ago, Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) filed a federal application to build a 1,172 mile oil pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken shale across the U.S. to Illinois at a projected cost of $3.8 billion. Before that application was filed, on September 30, 2014, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with ETP to express concerns about the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) and fears of water contamination. Though the company, now known as Energy Transfer, had re-routed a river crossing to protect the state capital of Bismarck against oil spills, it apparently turned a deaf ear to the Tribe’s objections.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is defending its claim that the Dakota Access pipeline has no significant environmental impact, but it issued only a brief summary of its court-ordered reassessment while keeping the full analysis confidential. The delay in releasing the full report, including crucial details about potential oil spills, has incensed the Standing Rock Tribe, whose reservation sits a half-mile downstream from where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River. The tribe said the Army Corps is stonewalling, and it said it will continue to oppose the pipeline. Meanwhile, oil continues to flow through the pipeline two years after opponents set up a desperate encampment to try to block the project. In June 2017, a federal judge ordered the Corps to reassess the potential environmental harm posed by the pipeline,
Mike Faith, Jr., Chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, issued this statement: “The Army Corps’ decision to rubberstamp its illegal and flawed permit for DAPL will not stand. “A federal judge declared the DAPL permits to be illegal, and ordered the Corps to take a fresh look at the risks of an oil spill and the impacts to the Tribe and its Treaty rights. That is not what the Army Corps did. Instead, we got a cynical and one-sided document designed to paper over mistakes, not address the Tribe’s legitimate concerns. “The Tribe has worked in good faith every step of the way to develop technical and cultural information to help the Corps fully understand the consequences of permitting this pipeline. They took our hard work and threw it in the trash.