Tag Archives: dakota access pipeline

Trump Change: The Future of Environmental Research under President Trump…Story by Mack Jastle

Well, no one ever said transitions went off without a hitch. Changing entire teams of people and appointing new heads to different agencies tends to be a bit complicated, and sometimes things get changed around.

However, asking the Environmental Protective Agency to remove the page for climate change from its website is a big change (pun intended), with far-reaching implications.

That’s allegedly what the Trump administration told the EPA to do on Tuesday, January 24, or so allegations say. Employees of the agency were notified by EPA officials that the administration had requested the communications team at the agency to delete the climate change page from the official EPA website.

This move isn’t exactly unexpected; it’s just the next step by the Trump administration to eliminate the climate change initiatives put into place by the previous President, Barack Obama.

The sources from inside the agency asked to remain anonymous, not wanting to risk retribution from the administration for breaking a gag order put in place during the transition. Since then, the page itself has stayed more or less intact, seemingly contradicting reports.

In addition to the purported editing of the website, a statement given by Doug Erickson, a spokesman for the transition team, stated

Blackout…Amid speculation of budget cuts and censorship, the Trump Administration ordered a media blackout at the EPA, suspending its ability to grant new contracts or grants. Photo by Environmental Protective Agency
Blackout…Amid speculation of budget cuts and censorship, the Trump Administration ordered a media blackout at the EPA, suspending its ability to grant new contracts or grants. Photo by Environmental Protective Agency

that EPA scientists will likely have their work reviewed on a “case-by-case” basis before they are allowed to publish or present their findings. If such a system were to be enacted within the agency, it would directly contradict the scientific integrity policy put into place to prevent censorship and misuse of EPA findings.

The administration responded to the claims on Wednesday, with Press Secretary Sean Spicer stating: “No, there is nothing that has come from the White House. Absolutely, not.” This was in response to a question asking if the administration had sent out a mandate stopping the discussion of climate change.

President Trump has expressed doubts about the reality of climate change in the past, and previously called it a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese to make US manufacturing non-competitive in a tweet back in 2012. He has since been more open to the idea, but has made it clear that companies and businesses’ interests come first. The removal of any and all reference to climate change on the official White House website when Donald Trump took office seems to be in keeping with his stance. President Trump has stated in the past that he will pull America out of the historic Paris agreement reached by

New Life…Trump revitalized the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines on Wednesday, January 25, signing executive orders to help along their construction and promising to get Americans to work building them. Photo by NPR StateImpact
New Life…Trump revitalized the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines on Wednesday, January 25, signing executive orders to help along their construction and promising to get Americans to work building them. Photo by NPR StateImpact

the United Nations in November last year. The agreement seeks to “undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so.” Its goal is to limit warming of the atmosphere to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Signed by more than a hundred countries, included massive carbon polluters like the US and China, the agreement would essentially require the world to become ‘carbon-neutral,’ (abandoning fossil fuels), by mid-century or earlier.

The US leaving the agreement could inspire other countries to do the same, and could have serious impacts on the effectiveness of the agreement moving forward.

Trump has since backed off a little, stating that he has an “open mind” towards the agreement and that he is “watching it very closely.”

Meanwhile, the battle to confirm President Trump’s proposed head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, continues. Pruitt has been opposed to the EPA in the past, siding with business and fossil fuel companies in several cases. In his role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, he has either led or aided in 14 separate lawsuits against the Environmental Protective Agency. He has faced heavy opposition from many on the left and even a few on the right.

After a second day of Democratic senators boycotting the confirmation vote, Republicans suspended committee rules to push Pruitt’s confirmation through. Democrats point to his anti-regulation stance and concern that he did not adequately answer questions sent to him after his confirmation hearing. One such offense is apparent when he declined to say if he would excuse himself from ongoing cases against the EPA if he is confirmed as its new leader.

Opponents call attention to his substantial ties and financial support from the oil and gas industry, and his skepticism on the concept of climate change.

Their concerns are backed by nearly 450 former EPA employees, who urged Congress on Monday to reject Pruitt, and current EPA employees in Chicago, who participated in a downtown rally urging the Senate to reject the nomination.

“Our perspective is not partisan,” reads the letter from 447 former EPA employees who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations. “However, every EPA administrator has a fundamental obligation to act in the public’s interest…Mr. Pruitt’s record raises serious questions about whose interests he has served to date and whether he agrees with the long-standing tenets of U.S. environmental law.”

All of this turbulence leaves the EPA and climate regulations in the US in a state of flux. If Pruitt is confirmed as the head of the EPA, it will certainly have far-reaching and impactful

consequences. If he is denied, critics of his industry ties and anti-EPA mindset may get a chance for a more sympathetic candidate.

Americans must decide what they want to be done about climate change, and petition their senators to vote in their interests. They must make a decision; reject Pruitt and maintain the administrative and regulatory power of the EPA, or approve him, and weaken environmental regulations and clean air & water initiatives in exchange for more big business and fossil fuels.

Water is Life… Story By: Natalie Faris

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is taking a stand for what matters to them. Recently, the Dakota Access Pipeline has begun its construction.

Water is Life... The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is gathering under the mantra “water is life” to protest the potentially dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline.
Water is Life… The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is gathering under the mantra “water is life” to protest the potentially dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo By: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The purpose of the pipeline will be to carry huge amounts of crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois where it will be refined. The pipeline will be 30 inches wide and 1,172 miles long. A pipe of this size calls for a 3.7 billion dollar investment. However, for some, it is costing more than just money. The pipe will run through some of Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s sacred grounds and main water sources. If those water sources are polluted from the heavy machinery and crude oil, it will make a devastating impact on many lives in the tribe and surrounding areas.

The tribe has gathered a large crowd for protest. People from over 200 tribes have gathered together in unity to preserve their land, their total numbers being somewhere around 1,000 semi-permanent inhabitants who plan to stay at the protester camp for as long as it takes. They have tried to remain peaceful but according to Linda Black Elk, the Dakota Access company is trying to provoke them into violence.

Standing as one... Over 200 tribes from across the country are gathering together in unity. Photo By: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook
Standing as one…
Over 200 tribes from across the country are gathering together in unity.
Photo By: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Facebook

The tribe filed a lawsuit trying to stop the construction in early September, the lawsuit claimed that the path of the pipeline was going to go directly through sacred burial grounds. “…Barely 24 hours after those papers were filed, Dakota Access used bulldozers to destroy those sites. It was absolute destruction. They literally bulldozed the ancestors right out of the ground, along with destroying tipi rings and cairns.” As they bulldozed the precious land, they kept the protesters away using attack dogs, tear gas, and pepper spray.

In another effort to stop the destruction, two of the protestors tied themselves to backhoes and refused to leave. One of them stayed on for two hours before the police came and arrested him along with 22 other protesters.

Recently in Alabama, a gasoline pipeline had a leak which released approximately 336,000 gallons of gasoline into the environment. If that were to happen with the future pipeline, which runs under the Missouri River and the Little Missouri River.

Iowa Farmers Sue Dakota Access over misuse of Eminent Domain Story By: John Holmes

Tradition, heritage, and profit. These three subjects all combine in the recent events surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline – being built by Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas based Energy Transfer Partners – will traverse through both North and South Dakota, Iowa, and end in Illinois. The company states the

Eminent domain…how should it be used? Photo by: the Daily Iowan.
Eminent domain…how should it be used? Photo by: the Daily Iowan.

pipeline will be capable of carrying 570,000 barrels of oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois. However, construction on the pipeline has halted due to several lawsuits that Dakota Access faces. While the most popular suit against Dakota Access involves the protection of Native American land, another issue involves the company’s use of eminent domain. In June, the Iowa Utilities Board made the decision to allow Dakota Access the right to use eminent domain in building the pipeline. Eminent domain is normally defined as “a right of a government to take private property for public use.” However, in the 2005 Kelo v. the City of New London court decision, private companies were granted the right to eminent domain in lieu of public gain. A company’s use of eminent domain, however, can only be granted willingly by the state in which the company is seeking land. Through this, Dakota Access won 99 percent of their pathway in North Dakota by voluntary easement (the landowner acceptably giving their land).

Iowa, however, had the most landowners to refuse the company’s compensation, and thus the land was forcibly taken. The Iowa landowners have made their case based on the company building the pipeline for private profit – something not permitted in the Kelo v. New London decision.

The Dakota Access Pipline route…as planned by Energy Transfer Partners. Photo by: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.
The Dakota Access Pipline route…as planned by Energy Transfer Partners. Photo by: Energy Transfer Partners, L.P.

“[Dakota Access has] represented to the state that they are a public pipeline that is providing a common carriage service for the benefit of Iowans and the nation, and therefore they should be entitled to use the power of eminent domain,” Bill Hanigan, attorney for 15 Iowa farmers, states in an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman. “And about that, we very much disagree.” Hanigan and the farmers he represents state that the argument Dakota Access has made is not valid, and therefore their use of eminent domain should not hold up in court. “The idea that a Texas company can take our land for its private purpose—you know, the argument that Dakota Access has made, that this is a somehow public purpose, is that they will take this oil off to the Gulf of Mexico through Iowa, and then they’ll produce unleaded gasoline, and somehow some of that gasoline will splash its way back to Iowa,” says Hanigan. “They can’t prove it.”

Without any proof that the money made from the pipeline will return to Iowa, Dakota Access has no verification that it will bring public good. Furthermore, with the repeal of the U.S ban on oil exports in 2015, Dakota Access can sell their oil overseas, dramatically limiting the amount of revenue invested back into the States.

In addition to protecting their land, the farmers want to bring the matter to the eyes of the Iowa Supreme Court in hope of preventing for-profit land seizure.

Another concern the farmers brought up was the effect on the land surrounding the pipeline – specifically the soil. “It took 10,000 years to get the soils where they are now,” says Keith Puntenney, an Iowa farmer involved in the lawsuit. ““It’s going to take the rest of my lifetime for it to become productive again.” With the pipeline construction disturbing the Iowa soil, the fruitfulness of that soil has been compromised. It could take years for Iowa farmers to begin cultivating again.

The Crude Truth about the Dakota Access Pipeline Story By Mack Jastle

Environmental conservation was once again catapulted into the public spotlight this summer as the Dakota Access Pipeline entered its final stages of completion.

Back in May, the $3.8 billion pipeline began construction after being approved by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, and it expected to begin piping crude oil before the end of this year.

It’s now September, and construction has ground to a halt as numerous environmental groups, Native American tribes, and farmers protest the construction of the line and delay it in any way they can.  The tribes assert that the pipeline will disturb and desecrate sacred land and burial grounds.  The Sioux of Standing Rock, one of the tribes most affected by the pipeline, claims that the proposed pipeline could contaminate their water supply, as the pipeline crosses under the Missouri River in that spot.  If it spilled, the crude oil could potentially leech into the river and contaminate the water supply.

Environmentalists call attention to the lack of risk analyses conducted to determine the risk of oil spilling from the pipeline and the impacts of such a spill.

Sacred…Assembled Native American tribes protest the pipeline’s destruction of sacred Sioux burial grounds and historical sites. Photo-by: theeventchronicle.com
Sacred…Assembled Native American tribes protest the pipeline’s destruction of sacred Sioux burial grounds and historical sites. Photo-by: theeventchronicle.com

Thus far, the pipeline has received permission for the project using Nationwide Permit 12.  This permit is an expedited permit that can be granted to projects that could only cause minimal adverse impacts.  In order to authorize the pipeline under the expedited process, the Army Corps of Engineers decided to treat the pipeline as a series of half-mile projects, with each one being separate from the others.  This allowed them to approve the pipeline without the usual thorough analysis required for such a gargantuan process.

This expedited process does come with a few caveats.  The expedited review glances over the pipeline, meaning areas of potentially extreme environmental impact might not have gotten the thorough analysis that they need.

This is what the protestors are hitting the Army Corps and the pipeline itself hard on.  Despite this, construction continued to creep forward.  Already overdue for construction, every day Sunoco Logistics and Energy Transfer Partners aren’t constructing the pipeline, that’s another day where they aren’t paying off their loans.

The 30-plus banks funding the pipeline have poured about $3.8 billion into the project, and they make that investment with the expectation of the pipeline paying them back once it’s up and running.  If the pipeline’s construction is halted, it could potentially cause the banks’ investments to fall through, which could destabilize the banks.  If this happens, we could be at risk for another round of corporate bailouts.  And according to several prominent figures in the economic sector, those bailouts could be devastating.

“[There’s] only so much you can squeeze out of a debt cycle…we are there!”

This was the keynote line of the Delivering Alpha Conference, spoken by Bridgewater’s Ray Dalio, creator of the world’s largest hedge fund.  Dalio drew reference to the 1935-1945 economic growth rates, stating that the current economic condition is analogous to that period.

Not exactly confidence inspiring.

Black Water….Protestors call attention to the potential water contamination that could result if there is a spill in the pipeline, and criticize the Army Corps for not properly reviewing the environmental impact. Photo-by:dandelionsalad.wordpress.com
Black Water….Protestors call attention to the potential water contamination that could result if there is a spill in the pipeline, and criticize the Army Corps for not properly reviewing the environmental impact. Photo-by:dandelionsalad.wordpress.com

Dalio warned of lower growth rates than usual, noting that, as a result of the current economic climate, it is difficult to push the prices of assets up…and easy for them to fall.  This creates an environment in which the failure of the Dakota Access Pipeline could have potentially catastrophic impacts on the American Economy.

No pressure.

To complicate matters further, the Obama administration stepped in this month to halt construction on a key segment of the 1172 mile-long pipeline.  The move gave a brief respite to the assembled protestors, but despite the halt, construction elsewhere continued, and in a memo released by Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer Partners CEO, pipeline construction is at 60%.

As the battle for the pipeline continues, construction inches forward.  The Dakota Access Pipeline has a long way to go before being complete, and it’s unclear as to whether or not it will be completed.  However, the consequences for whatever action the pipeline takes are potentially very severe, and they are ones that will take time to sort out.

Is the DAPL the future of American energy, or just a pipe dream?  We’ll have to wait and see.