Trump’s Bad Bet #1: DAPL
President Trump is a businessman, so you’d think he would know a good bet when he sees one. Reversing Obama’s decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t.
1. The tribes and others affected by the decision deserve a meaningful say. They didn’t get it. In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiated a public comment period for the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement. Yesterday, the Army Corps shut down the public comment and announced that it would grant the easement to complete the pipeline.
2. Trump broke the law. Agencies have to justify a reverse course. Here, the Army Corps didn’t.
3. The National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to analyze new information. Again, the Army Corps didn’t.
4. Trump ignored his own order. His own presidential memorandum requires conditions on the easement that are “necessary and appropriate.” Completing an Environmental Impact Statement is needed to determine such conditions.
5. Additional analysis is needed to prevent and detect oil leaks. Existing analysis does not adequately address these issues. In fact, the Army Corps continues to keep critical risk analysis and spill response documents secret. And the risks are real: In December, as the Standing Rock Sioux and its allies resisted Dakota Access, a pipeline rupture — just 150 miles away — undetected by leak-detection systems spilled 176,000 gallons into a nearby creek.
6. Further analysis is needed to protect reserved treaty rights. In a December 4, 2016, opinion, the Solicitor of the Department of the Interior concluded that “[l]ands taken to create Lake Oahe remain on-reservation.” In addition to crossing under the lake, the pipeline crosses unceded Sioux territory.
7. More analysis is needed to ensure compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act.
8. Pipeline profits will benefit a few.
9. Risk of harm is borne by many.
What happens next:
- With the easement to cross under Lake Oahe in hand, Energy Transfer Partners can begin to drill under the lake to complete the pipeline.
- The pipeline company told a federal judge that oil will begin to flow through the pipeline as soon as 60 days from granting of the easement.
- The tribes will seek emergency relief from the judge to halt construction to give the court time to decide whether the Army Corps approval of the pipeline was unlawful. The court’s evaluation will not be limited to the easement decision but could also address impairment of the tribe’s treaty rights as well as violations of the Clean Water Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
Tell President Trump you’re against reviving and fast-tracking the dirty Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines!