Justice League Stars Speak Out on Dakota Access Pipeline

By: Megan Mitchell

The highly anticipated film “Justice League” is in production but it’s what’s happening off camera that’s making waves on the Internet.
Three stars of the movie posted messages online showing their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Ezra Miller who plays “The Flash” in the superhero film and co-star Ray Fischer who plays “Cyborg,” released a 30 second video of them on set, stating their support of the Standing Rock Reservation in stopping the controversial pipeline.

Just a few days before this, another Hollywood star showed his support of the tribe as well.

Jason Momoa who portrays “Aquaman,” posted to his Instagram page with a sign informing fans of the situation. This star-studded endorsement for the tribe comes just after weeks of petitions, public meetings and protests.

The pipeline is projected to go directly through the community’s main water source and be the biggest capacity pipeline to date. Tribal members and landowners from across the region say drinking water would be contaminated.

The Army Corps of Engineers is set to make a final decision on the project sometime this month.



Native Communities Stand Up To Proposed Oil Pipeline: ‘This Is Keystone 3’

By some accounts, the Dakota Access oil pipeline seems like done deal. Iowa, the last state out of the four the pipeline would cut through to grant a permit, approved the pipeline in March, leaving the project with just one federal approval to gain. And the company in charge of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, appears to not be waiting until that federal permit is granted: It’s already started construction on the 1,154-mile pipeline.

But for the native tribes affected by the pipeline, the fight is far from over. Tribes have written letters to government agencies, met with the Army Corps of Engineers — which is responsible for issuing the final permit for the pipeline — and have launched a campaign, called Rezpect our Water, against the pipeline. They’ve even set out on a 500-mile relay run in protest of the project.

“Even in South America and Canada, we have seen the devastation of a culture because of oil leaks and oil spills and we just don’t want that to happen here to us,” Doug Crow Ghost, director of water resources for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, told ThinkProgress.

The The Dakota Access pipeline, also referred to as the Bakken pipeline, would carry oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project, which was proposed in 2014, once had a route that would cross the Missouri River upstream of Bismarck, North Dakota. But that proposal was changed, according to Earthjustice, because of worries that the pipeline would impact drinking water for the people of Bismarck. Now, the proposed route would run downstream to the reservation — despite the fact that the Standing Rock Sioux also get their drinking water from the Missouri.


A leak in the pipeline, which would cross under the Missouri River twice, could decimate water supplies for the tribe, Crow Ghost said. But it’s not just water supplies he’s worried about: There are also plants that live along the riverbank that are crucial for cultural reasons, and an oil spill could destroy them.

“There are cottonwood stands along the Missouri and its tributaries, and buffalo berries, sage, and mouse bean that we use,” he said. “There are so many different ones. I couldn’t even begin to name them.”

Crow Ghost and other members of the tribe wrote letters to multiple state and government agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Civil Works, the states of North Dakota and South Dakota, the EPA, and the Army Corps of Engineers, outlining their concerns with the pipeline. After receiving the letters, the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation all wrote letters of their own to the Army Corps of Engineers, asking the agency to complete a revised version of its Environmental Assessment that looks more closely at the proposed pipeline’s impact on water sources for native communities and at concerns over environmental justice issues that the pipeline poses.

“The routing of a 12- to 30-inch crude oil pipeline in close proximity to and upstream of the Reservation is of serious concern to the Department,” the Department of Interior writes in itsletter. “A spill could impact the waters that the Tribe and individual tribal members residing in that area rely upon for drinking and other purposes,” it continues. “We believe that, if the pipeline’s current route along the edge of the Reservation remains an option, the potential impact on trust resources in this particular situation necessitates full analysis and disclosure of potential impacts through the preparation of an [Environmental Impact Statement].”

Currently, the Army Corps is working to complete Environmental Assessments (EA) for the 37 miles of the pipeline’s route that are under the Corps’ control. These 37 miles include segments of the route that cross federal land, including the two crossings of the Missouri River. The rest of the pipeline route was under the jurisdiction of the states, said Eileen Williamson, spokesperson for the Omaha district of the Army Corps. If the Corps does find that the pipeline, in the areas examined, does have the potential to cause significant environmental effects, a more rigorous Environmental Impact Statement will be required. The Corps also has the ability to take the letters from the EPA, Interior, and ACHP into account when it completes its assessments and include a direct response to the offices in the Environmental Assessment, she said.

The agencies, in their March letters, also recommended that the Army Corps provide more consultation with tribes over the pipeline — the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation wrote it was “perplexed by the Corps’ apparent difficulties in consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.” Williamson said that Army Corps representatives have “attended three comprehensive consultation meetings with representatives from numerous tribes,” including a meeting with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe last week.

Still, Kelly Morgan, Tribal historic preservation officer and archaeologist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said she wished the Army Corps had consulted more with the tribe. There have been meetings, she said, but she didn’t view them as formal, government-to-government consultations — though that is how the Army Corps classifies them.

“As the tribal archaeologist, this whole area has a very rich cultural history,” she said. “There are burials out there, cultural sites, and habitation sites” that have spanned multiple generations. During one of the meetings with the Army Corps, Crow Ghost took an officer to see a burial ground that would be impacted by the pipeline, a region that’s off the property of the reservation but “is still aboriginal territory of our people.”

“We want to protect that. That was a village. We hold that in high regard because of our relatives that are still buried in that area,” he said. “Nobody wants their church to be desecrated,” he added, “and the earth is our church.”

“Nobody wants their church to be desecrated, and the earth is our church.”

It’s with that sentiment in mind that youths from multiple tribes in the path of the pipeline set out on a 500-mile relay run last week to deliver a petition against the pipeline to the Army Corps Omaha District office. The petition calls on the Army Corps to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline before permitting it to cross the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers.

“We are borrowing this land from our grandchildren so we need to take care of our main life source: water,” Roni Starlin, Santee Nebraska tribal citizen, and one of the coordinators of the run, said in a statement. “Without clean water we will cease to survive, thus exterminating our own existence. We are running for our future generations.”

So far, it’s not clear when the Environmental Assessment will be released — it was projected to be early May, but Williamson said there’s no clear timeline because the Army Corps needs time to go through the comments it received on its draft EA. If there’s anything related to environmental concerns in those comments, she said, the Army Corps needs to determine whether those concerns have already been addressed or still need to be. And the Corps has received a lot of comments, she said, stressing that the agency at its core was neither a proponent or an opponent of the project.

If the Army Corps does find in its Environmental Assessments that the pipeline won’t create a significant impact on the environment, and decides to grant a permit for the project, tribe members aren’t backing down. Crow Ghost said the tribe had talked about next steps if that happens, but wasn’t ready to share what they were just yet. Earthjustice and other environmental groups, including the Indigenous Environmental Network, have been working with the tribes, as have been some landowners along the pipeline’s proposed route.

“In my way of looking at this, as the tribal archaeologist, this is Keystone three,” Morgan said, adding that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was strongly opposed to that pipeline too. “We’re just at the beginning.”

From Think Progress

Native Americans are demanding ‘rezpect’ in the face of this 1,100-mile oil pipeline

By Chelsey Luger

STANDING ROCK INDIAN RESERVATION, North Dakota—Citizens, tribal leaders, and environmental activists from communities spanning the Great Sioux Nation in North and South Dakota are banding together to discourage federal entities from approving the Dakota Access Pipeline, a project they consider to be a dire threat to the health of their people, water, and the environment.

On top of running a 500-mile relay to draw attention to the issue, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has launched a social media campaign and petition called “Rezpect Our Water” in hopes of garnering support from concerned citizens across the country.

“Rezpect” is a term that blends the slang term “rez,” a word commonly used to describe Native lands, and the word “respect.” In the newly released video series, children from the tribe speak up in opposition to the pipeline.

“It’s messed up because we get all our water from the Missouri river,” said Winona Gayton, 14, a member of the tribe and resident of the Standing Rock Reservation. “We’re going to push back.”

“It’s like they don’t care about us,” said Tokata Iron Eyes, 12, of Fort Yates, North Dakota, in reference to proponents of the pipeline. “They’re not the ones being affected, so why should they be the ones to make the decision?”

“I am the closest landowner to your pipeline. Your pipeline will go right across from my home. Your pipeline will be at my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my uncles’ graves. I have been on the Cannonball River all my life, so I want you to know me.”

The campaign to fight the pipeline is at its peak now, but the battle began two years ago when representatives from the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company first arrived in Bismarck, North Dakota to pitch the project at a public forum. Ladonna Brave Bull Allard showed up to the meeting and sat quietly in the back of the room. She listened without engaging, making a point to not eat any of the food they provided.

After the meeting, as the room emptied and everybody finished speaking, Brave Bull Allard made her way to the front and introduced herself to the oil representatives.

“Look at my face,” she pleaded with a firm voice. “I am from the Standing Rock Reservation. I am the closest landowner to your pipeline. Your pipeline will go right across from my home. Your pipeline will be at my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my uncles’ graves. I have been on the Cannonball River all my life, so I want you to know me.”

Ever since that meeting, Brave Bull Allard has continued to fight the pipeline on a personal level as a landowner, on a community level as a citizen of the Great Sioux Nation, and on a professional level as the Historic Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

LaDonna Allard-Bravebull discussions the Dakota Access Pipeline on her land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

LaDonna Brave Bull Allard discussions the Dakota Access Pipeline on her land near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

For an outsider, the quickest route to the Brave Bull Allard residence, where the Standing Rock Reservation’s northern boundary begins, is a 47-mile drive south from Bismarck on Highway 1806, which runs along the Missouri River—the same route Lewis and Clark took two centuries ago. If you happen to miss the bold green highway sign welcoming you to the reservation, you’ll know you’re there when you lose cellphone reception.

The remote and rural reservation is the sixth largest in the country at about 5.3 million acres. Towns are few and far between. Tall grasses, lonely trees, and scattered homes comprise the landscape. But to call it “empty” would be an injustice; describing Native lands as “empty” is a colonial tactic that has been used to justify land theft for centuries.

Standing next to the grave sites of her relatives, Brave Bull Allard pointed to the proposed pipeline site. It is within a few hundred feet of her home. Though a map would show clear boundaries, the naked eye has trouble distinguishing between her yard and the reservation’s border. The Cannonball River, a tributary of the Missouri River, is very much a part of her family’s place, and likewise a part of the community of Cannon Ball. Following the river south, most of Standing Rock’s other towns and homes are also along its shores, as many homes and ranches depend on the water source.

“This was a major trade metropolis here,” explained Brave Bull Allard as she scanned the landscape with her hands. “I can tell you where the first Okipa ceremony was held so that the Mandan people could pray. I can tell you where the 1938 Sun Dance was held to stop the war…”

Brave Bull Allard described about a dozen other historically significant sites. As a young girl growing up in the community, she heard these stories from her elders. As Historic Preservation Officer, she has done her research and worked with cartographers to create maps for the tribe to use in times like this.

Brave Bull Allard has not stopped working, but the Dakota Access LLC (a subsidiary of the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, who owns the project) has not backed down. In fact, they have made great strides toward garnering approval for the pipeline.

If approved, the project would be completed and fully functional by the end of the year. The 30-inch diameter pipeline would transfer about a half million barrels of domestically produced crude oil per day from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois 1,168 miles away.

Dakota Access Pipeline path.

So far, Dakota Access has managed to procure voluntary easements on 90% of the private land along the route. They have also received approval from all four states along the path.

But they have not received approval from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe or other tribal governments who say that the health and well being of tribal lands and reservation residents are at stake.

“The initial environmental assessment didn’t even mention Standing Rock. They completely ignored our interests,” said Steve Sitting Bear, External Affairs Coordinator for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

According to Sitting Bear, Dakota Access did not deem consideration of tribal interests necessary because the pipeline would not run directly under tribal lands.

But the tribe argues that because it would cross directly under the south-flowing Missouri River mere feet away from Standing Rock’s northern border next to the community of Cannon Ball (the same town the Obamas visited two years ago for an historic and rare trip to reservation lands), the tribe is directly at risk of facing consequences should the pipeline break.

Joye Braun, a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is an environmental activist who has been instrumental in garnering grassroots support to stop the pipeline. Braun anticipates that a break in the pipeline north of Cannon Ball would immediately impact at least three out of seven tribes in the Great Sioux Nation.

“If that pipeline breaks, all of Standing Rock’s potable water will be in danger.”

“Without our sacred water, we have nothing” Braun explained. “If that pipeline breaks, all of Standing Rock’s potable water will be in danger. Then it’s going to come down toward Cheyenne River where half of our reservation will be contaminated, and don’t forget that the Oglala Nation gets their drinking water from the Missouri River too.”

Because of the disregard for Standing Rock and the rest of the Great Sioux Nation in the initial draft of the project’s environmental impact assessment, Standing Rock’s chairman, Dave Archambault, traveled to Washington to seek support from other federal agencies who may influence the decision.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Office of Historic Preservation have both since issued statements calling for a reassessment of environmental impact, arguing that Standing Rock land and water should be taken into account, just as they have taken the livelihood of other populations into account.

Archambault explained that one of the proposed pipeline routes in an earlier draft of the project had the pipeline running under the Missouri River just north of Bismarck, North Dakota’s capital city.

“They chose not to build there because of the population,” Archambault said. “Well, we have a population too.”

Unlike the Keystone XL pipeline, which was considered a federal project due to its crossing of international borders, the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline is a private project which does not require presidential approval. Approval for the DAPL now lies in the hands of the Army Corps of Engineers. Sioux officials are planning to meetwith a corps official Friday in South Dakota. The Corps has stated that they will issue a decision in regards to the pipeline sometime during the first week of May.

Until then, people of all ages from the Great Sioux Nation will continue to fight the pipeline, urging others to “rezpect” their water. Youth involvement in the initiative is a testament the the intergenerational mentality of Lakota/Dakota/Nakota people. Consideration for future generations has always been a staple value in Sioux culture.

“This pipeline threatens the sacred waters of the Missouri and is attempting to lock our country into more fossil fuel dependency when we are seeing a just transition toward renewable energy,” said Dallas Goldtooth, organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, “We must keep this oil in the ground for the benefit of all future generations.”

From Fusion

Tribal Members Ask Army Corps to Deny Permit for Dakota Access Pipeline

By Ben Smith, Reporter

The Dakota access pipeline is just a few weeks away from beginning construction.

The 1100 mile pipeline would carry Bakken crude oil through 4 states including North and South Dakota.

Today over 200 people came to Mobridge to speak out against the project.

Ben Smith was there.

“This is a call for genocide, against my people, against your people. And we are not going to stand idly by and let this happen,” says Joye Braun, Cheyenne River

“We’re here in stance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe opposes the permitting process for Dakota Access Pipeline with the Army Corps of Engineers. So today’s meeting was with Col. John Henderson to express to him our community members concern concerns about the placement of the pipeline. We’re here to try to protect our water,” says Allyson Two Bears, Standing Rock

“If it’s built, all of this water will be contaminated with oil,” says Kinlee Ironroad

“Pipelines of course we know will have several impacts on the environment so we’re asking for the U.S. Army Corps to take a full and complete look at the environmental assessment. We do have our legal staff…working on the opposition of Dakota Access Pipeline,” says Two Bears

“There is a significant dispute about wether the surveys that the Corps. of Engineers has conducted, comply with the requirements especially as it relates to obtaining tribal input into the identification and evaluation of historic sites,” says Standing Rock Attorney Peter Capossela

“We’re approximately about May 15th is when they’re looking at approval for this…That’s when we will step forward with the legal process and potentially be suing the US Army Core of Engineers.”

Col. Henderson says the corps of engineers share the concerns of Standing Rock members.

He says they will consider their comments in making the final decision, which should come in May.

From KXNews

Opponents of proposed Dakota access pipeline holding 500-mile relay

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — American Indians and others who oppose a proposed oil pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois are taking part in a 500-mile spiritual relay.

Opponents of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline are running from Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to the Army Corps of Engineers office in Omaha, Nebraska.

The relay began Sunday and should end next Tuesday.

The 1,130-mile pipeline planned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners would pass through the Dakotas and Iowa on its way to Illinois. Regulators in all states have approved the project, but it still needs approval from the corps.

Tribal officials fear contamination to drinking water. Energy Transfer Partners maintains the pipeline will be safe.

Standing Rock Sioux officials plan to meet with a corps official Friday in South Dakota.

From KFGO 

Spiritual relay protests Dakota Access Pipeline

In solidarity with the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, young Plains Indians and other youthful supporters are participating in a 500-mile spiritual relay from Cannon Ball to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’s Omaha District office.

The “Run for Your Life: No DAPL” event left Cannon Ball Sunday and is expected to reach Omaha on Tuesday.

The runners will deliver a petition asking the corps to conduct a complete environmental impact statement before issuing a pipeline easement to cross near the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation boundary.

The corps is conducting a less rigorous environmental assessment and would only conduct an EIS if it finds significant impact, says spokesman Larry Janis.

The corps will meet with reservation officials and members at 10 a.m. Friday at the Grand River Casino near Mobridge, S.D.

Jessye Stein, spokeswoman for “Run for Your Life,” said the battle is over protecting one of the largest water resources in the country that provides drinking water for millions of people.

Jasilyn Charger, a young runner from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, said she’s running for everyone who resists the pipeline.

“I run for every man, woman and child that was, that is, and for those who will come to be. I run for my life, because I want to live,” she said.

Dakota Access Pipeline, a project of Energy Transfer, would transport as many as 570,000 barrels daily of Bakken crude from northwestern North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois and cross the Missouri River near Williston and Standing Rock.

Pipeline representatives announced at a recent public meeting that construction on various parts of the pipeline will start in May, excluding unpermitted river crossings at this time.

From Bismarck Tribune

Dakota Access Pipeline: Three Federal Agencies Side With Standing Rock Sioux, Demand Review


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation have stepped into the public fray over the $3.4 billion, 1,134-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline that conglomerate Energy Transfer wants to run through four states.The agencies each weighed in during March and early April with separate letters exhorting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is about to make a decision about the pipeline, to conduct a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Each of them cited potential effects on and lack of consultation with tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux.“We are so thankful that the EPA, DOI, and the Advisory Council are requesting a full EIS on the Dakota Access Pipeline and are hoping that the Army Corp of Engineers listen to the request of these agencies and to the Native communities who will be affected by this pipeline,” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a landowner who is also with the Standing Rock Tribal Historic Preservation Office, in a statement from the Indigenous Environmental Network.

Noting that drinking water intake for the water system serving Fort Yates on the Standing Rock Reservation was a mere 10 miles from where the Missouri River crosses Lake Oahe, the EPA recommended that the Corps’ draft Environmental Assessment “be revised to assess potential impacts to drinking water and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” the EPA said in its letter. “Based on our improved understanding of the project setting, we also recommend addressing additional concerns regarding environmental justice and emergency response actions to spills/leaks.”

The EPA recommended that the Army Corps revise its Environmental Assessment and open up a second public comment period.

The Interior Department expressed similar concerns in its letter.

“The routing of a 12- to 30-inch crude oil pipeline in close proximity to and upstream of the Reservation is of serious concern to the Department,” the DOI said in its letter. “When establishing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s permanent homeland, the U.S. reserved waters of sufficient quantity and quality to serve the purposes of the Reservation. The Department holds more than 800,000 acres of land in trust for the Tribe that could be impacted by a leak or spill. Further, a spill could impact the waters that the Tribe and individual tribal members residing in that area rely upon for drinking and other purposes. We believe that, if the pipeline’s current route along the edge of the Reservation remains an option, the potential impact on trust resources in this particular situation necessitates full analysis and disclosure of potential impacts through the preparation of an [Environmental Impact Statement].”

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was “perplexed by the Corps’ apparent difficulties in consulting with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,” the ACHP said in its letter to the Army Corps, listing numerous attempts at communication and consultation by the Standing Rock Sioux’s tribal historic preservation officer (THPO) about everything from water concerns to the pipeline’s potential proximity to burial sites.

“It is troubling to note that the THPO’s letters indicate the Corps took more than seven months to address the tribe’s specific concerns,” the ACHP said.

“It is impressive to see these federal agencies stand up in support of the Standing Rock Lakota Nation and acknowledge tribe’s right to be consulted on any extractive development that impacts lands, water, and peoples within their territory,” said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. “And although a full EIS is a welcome step to hold Dakota Access accountable, the only way we can truly protect the land and water is by rejecting such dirty oil projects, enacting just transition policy towards renewable energy, and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.”


From Indian Indian Country

People Over Pipelines: Runners Relay to Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

For months, both Native and non-Native peoples in the Midwest have been battling the construction of the Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline, a project that will go from North Dakota to Illinois and cross the 12,000 year old Missouri River, which is the main water resource for millions of people.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making the final decision on whether or not to issue the last permit that Dakota Access, LLC needs to construct the Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline on May 4th, 2016.

We, People Over Pipelines, are organizing a SPIRIT RELAY RUN from Cannon Ball, ND to the office of the Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, NE, to deliver the message to the Army Corps that we resist a pipeline crossing beneath sacred water needed for life.

The run will be approximately 500 miles and take about a week, with the runners passing off the run to one another, relay style.

Please, donate to our cause to help supply the runners with enough water & food along their route. This is a BIG TASK and we need all the help that we can get.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.36.16 AM

The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, backed by Texas based Energy Transfer Partners, is a 1,168-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that would carry Bakken crude from western North Dakota to a distribution hub Illinois on route for refinement in the Gulf Coast.

If built, the Dakota Access Pipeline would transport as much as 450,000 barrels of oil per day with a future capacity of 570,000 barrels per day.

The proposed pipeline has drawn fierce opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, farmers, private land owners and environmentalist.

On April 1st, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe established a Spirit Camp along the proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline and have vowed to remain there until the pipeline is stopped.

Sign petition to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline here

by Wakíƞyaƞ Waánataƞ (Matt Remle)

Source: Last Real Indians

Opponents pray to stop Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, N.D.

By Lauren Donovan / Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune

CANNON BALL — It was lunch time and whoever was in camp was handed a plate of frank and beans, with a few chips on the side.

A fire of box elder and cottonwood crackled and smoked, and a warm breeze chased the soot from one person to the next.

It was quiet and serene Thursday at the camp founded to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cross the Missouri River about one-half mile from where tents and tipis are pitched in the dry grass against budding bull berry bushes.

The camp just north of the town of Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation has been occupied for two weeks now. People are coming and going, sleeping in thin shelter, living off donated food and spending their days in contemplation, conversation and prayer. Willow frames for sweat lodges and a colorful prayer post stand beside the camp.

The pipeline will carry as much as 570,000 barrels daily of Bakken crude and pass under the Missouri River near its confluence with the Cannonball River just 1,000 feet from the reservation boundary.

People who come to the camp are in view of the proposed crossing and can pray as they are moved to for the water and the land they believe are threatened should the pipeline break and spill oil into the rivers.

The aim is to stop the pipeline, and LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a tribal historian and preservation employee, has no doubt that aim will find its mark.

“We will stop it. We have prayer with us,” said Allard, who donated family land for the camp and is the closest of any landowner who would be affected. She said the area at the confluence is rich with history, ancient settlements and burials.

“We are not expendable,” she said.

The tribal leadership has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a full-blown environmental impact statement, rather than a less rigorous finding of no significant impact, for where the pipeline will cross the Missouri. The corps has not yet issued any permits for that part of the 1,000-mile route from the Bakken to Illinois.

Kat Eng, from Winona, Minn., joined the camp three days ago to show her support. She was grimy, in need of a non-existent shower and becoming used to picking off pesky ticks, but cheerful all the same.

She said she’s been rising early to watch the sun rise from a hill overlooking the confluence and to listen to the birdsong. She is not a tribal member, but she belongs to Honor the Earth and tries to live what she believes.

“To me, it’s really important to support the indigenous people and all people who deserve clean water. That’s what we’re here to defend, and we want to feel what it’s like,” said Eng, who describes the evenings, when the drumming echoes out over the water, as especially meaningful.

About 30 people have been living in the camp, and Allard said the number will grow with warm weather when the school year ends.

Wiyaka Eagleman, of Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, lived in camp there for nine months in protest of the Keystone XL. He came to Standing Rock because of the harm oil companies can do to the water.

“We pray every day in camp. It’s all we need,” said Allard, who expects the camp will remain occupied for as long as it takes to stop the pipeline.

Activities to keep people involved are scheduled, including a gathering April 29 at the Grand River Casino near Mobridge, S.D. A ranking corps official will be there to take comments, and a women’s run, motorcycle ride and horse ride are also planned.

The Spirit Camp activities are updated daily on Facebook pages People Over Pipeline and No Dakota Access in Treaty Territory, pages that were started with the camp.

Excerpt from AG Week

South Dakota Oil Spill Reveals Major Pipeline Problems

by Ken Ilgunas

States with tar sands pipelines are dealing with lousy leak-detection systems, toxic and difficult-to-clean spills and pitiful tax revenues

When I trespassed across America in 2012 as part of my 1,700-mile hike along the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline, I fell in love with South Dakota: its big skies, its gently rolling grasslands, its herds of deer and pronghorn. Despite being hit by blizzards and stampeded by cows and called “crazy” every day, South Dakota would settle into my memory as one of the grandest places I’ve ever visited.

Most of this land, though, was considered by TransCanada, the Canadian pipeline company that wanted to build the Keystone XL, to be “low consequence,” a designation that TransCanada sought to apply so that they could use a thinner pipe.

On April 2, 2016, some of this low-consequence land was soaked in oil because of a leak in the Keystone 1 pipeline near Freeman, S.D. TransCanada responded by requesting the FAA to create a no-fly zone above the spill.

The original low-consequence sum of 187 gallons of spilled oil—just enough to fill a kiddie pool—soon increased 90 times to 16,800 gallons. Oil was discovered on 300 square feet of farmland by a neighbor of landowner Loren Schultz. TransCanada pulled out soil around 275 feet of pipe in their search for the leak, which TransCanada would eventually call “small,” despite it having just spurted out benzene-laced tar sands oil over a football field-sized piece of land.

The spill—the largest in South Dakota in Keystone 1’s six-year life—is certainly a mess that an ogreish and shady pipeline company would want to hide, but it’s probably not the only thing TransCanada doesn’t want us to see. In the Heartland, states with tar sands pipelines have been dealing with lousy leak-detection systems, toxic and difficult-to-clean spills and pitiful tax revenues for years.

The Keystone 1 pipeline stretches from Hardisty, Alberta to Illinois and Oklahoma. The pipe, which started pumping oil in 2009, was approved by President George W. Bush and advanced through the application and construction process without much trouble. These were the years before the Keystone XL, when pipelines were relatively uncontroversial and easy to build.

Some states wanted the Keystone 1 so badly that they gave TransCanada generous incentives, like Kansas, which gave TransCanada a baffling 10-year tax exemption. Nebraska may have buyer’s remorse, too, as it watch its annual tax revenue from TransCanada decrease year to year (from $7.6 million in 2012 to $5.9 million in 2015, according to data from Bold Nebraska). In Nebraska, the pipe will be valueless and cannot be taxed after 15 years. South Dakota lost out on big money, too, when it gave TransCanada (a company with $64 billion in assets) $14 million as part of a contractor’s excise tax rebate. TransCanada projected they’d pay $6.5 million in property taxes to South Dakota for the first year of operation, but from 2010 to 2013, South Dakota received an average of only $3.4 million.

With all of this money that TransCanada is saving, you’d think they could invest it into their “state of the art” leak-detection system, which, Bill McKibben, the founder of climate advocacy organization, wryly tweeted “involves passerby noticing pools of oil.” The leak-detection system uses sensors to monitor for leaks, but the truth is that the general public reports 22% of spills nationwide, according to Inside Climate News, which analyzed data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration between 2002 and 2012. In that same time period, only 5% of leaks were detected by remote sensors.

In just its first year, the Keystone 1 sprung 35 leaks, including a 21,000-gallon gusher at a North Dakota pump station. When North Dakota rancher Bob Banderat went to check on his cows, he saw a 60-foot-high geyser of oil. He reported the spill over the phone, and he said that TransCanada asked him if he was joking and put him on hold for five minutes.

TransCanada’s leak-detection system is designed to detect high-volume spills, but it has reported that its sensors are not able to detect leaks beneath 1.5% to 2% of the pipe’s flow rate, which means that the Keystone 1, which carries about 500,000 barrels of oil a day, could theoretically leak as many as 420,000 gallons every day without their sensors detecting it. This flaw in TransCanada’s detection system likely contributed to the recent South Dakota spill, which was caused by an anomaly on a girth weld, where there was an observed leak of two drops per minute.

The South Dakota spill is another ill-timed blunder for an industry reeling from its unlikely loss over the Keystone XL, which President Barack Obama rejected last November 2015. Dominion Energy’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 550-mile pipeline that would go through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina, is being aggressively fought by protestors, as is the Northeast Energy Direct, a proposed 188-mile gas pipeline that would bring fracked gas from Pennsylvania and New York to New England. In February 2016, a Kentucky Supreme Court let an appeals court decision stand that had killed the Bluegrass pipeline.

Environmental leaders believe that the rejection of the Keystone XL has bolstered the movement against pipelines.

“I think people now believe that they can win,” said Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska, an advocacy group that opposed the Keystone XL. “[They think,] ‘if a state like Nebraska can beat a pipeline, so can we.’”

The recent spill may make things even harder for the Dakota Access Pipeline, a proposed pipeline that would cross South Dakota while transporting oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipe has been subject to strong opposition from landowners, tribes and advocacy groups.

Paul Seamans, a South Dakota rancher who opposed the Keystone XL, a grassroots agriculture and conservation group, says the Freeman spill might serve as a warning for other states contemplating pipelines.

“To me, the spill is good news,” said Seamans. “I’m happy it happened. It shows the dangers of spills from even new pipelines. This spill was less than thirty miles from where the Keystone 1 is bored underneath the Missouri River. We should all consider ourselves fortunate that it didn’t happen there.”

It’s uncertain if the other proposed pipelines will fail the way the Bluegrass and Keystone XL have, but it’s clear that, in America, no pipeline is a safe bet anymore. Pipeline companies’ futures may be in jeopardy, but that won’t bother a lot of ranchers and farmers of the Heartland. To some, that may be a matter of low consequence.


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