Dakota Access trying to keep oil spill documents from tribes and public
Thursday, March 2, 2017
More on: cheyenne river sioux, consultation, dakota access pipeline, donald trump, james boasberg, nicole ducheneaux, north dakota, standing rock sioux, terrorism, treaties, usace, water
Authorities are seen evicting the last remaining residents of the #NoDAPL encampment in North Dakota on February 24, 2017. Photo: Rob
With oil set to flow through the Dakota Access
Pipeline within a matter of weeks, the project's wealthy backers are still trying to keep key documents away from tribes and the public.
According to the firm, "terrorists" or people with "malicious intent" could use the information to try to damage the costly and controversial pipeline once it becomes operational. But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and even the Trump administration are calling the concerns vastly overblown.
"Dakota Access has not provided any facts or evidence establishing that it will be harmed by the release of the designated material," attorneys for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrote in a filing on Wednesday.
At issue are 11 documents that have been withheld from the record as part of the ongoing #NoDAPL lawsuit. The tribes have long been calling for the release of the information, which could help them bolster their case against the pipeline and aid them in efforts to protect their communities and the water supply from oil spills.
"DAPL seeks to shield these documents not to keep the public safe from terrorists, but because the documents are embarrassingly inadequate and undermine DAPL’s primary narrative in this case — that oil spill risk can be dismissed without further analysis or independent expert review," attorneys for Standing Rock and Cheyenne River wrote on Wednesday.
The 11 documents are being kept under seal so it's not entirely clear what they contain but Dakota Access has admitted that some of them do in fact address oil spills. A spill would impact the tribes, their treaty territory and their treaty-protected water rights to the Missouri River.
"Certain of the documents — geographic response plans, spill models, and related emergency operations and maintenance documents — contain spill response information," attorneys for Dakota Access wrote in February when they asked for a "protective order" to keep the documents from being seen by others. "That spill response information was developed for purposes of meeting and exceeding the requirements and regulations of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration," the filing stated.
"Indeed, these documents merit additional protection because they contain information that could assist potential terrorist activity in circumventing pipeline security and response procedures designed to protect public health and the environment," it continued. "The documents containing geographic information likewise contain information which would assist potential terrorists in selecting targets, i.e., potentially vulnerable route locations."
The sparring over the secret documents comes as Dakota Access completes the final portion of the pipeline at a site in North Dakota less than a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. According to a status update filed on Monday, the firm has already drilled a "pilot hole" under the Missouri and is "reaming" it, or making it larger, in order to place a pipe below the waters.
Oil could be flowing anywhere between March 6 and April 1, although an attorney indicated during a court hearing on Tuesday that the earlier date is unlikely. However, there is a "very high likelihood" that work will be finished by the end of the month, David Debold said.
The uncertainty prompted Judge James
E. Boasberg to order Dakota Access to provide 48-hours advance notice before placing crude in the pipeline. The firm is already submitting weekly status updates on its progress, with the next one due on Monday.
That update will be a crucial one, as Boasberg is planning to issue a decision sometime next week on Cheyenne River's request for an injunction to stop oil from flowing through the pipeline. The tribe says the mere presence of the pipe in the Missouri renders the water impure and unsafe for religious ceremonies like sweat lodges and coming of age rites.
"This is their territory," attorney Nicole
Ducheneaux, herself a Cheyenne River citizen, said in outlining the tribe's opposition to the pipeline.
Separately, both Cheyenne River and Standing Rock are asking the judge to set aside an easement that was granted to Dakota Access last month by the Army Corps. The easement allowed the firm to resume construction activities on federally-managed land in North Dakota.
The Army Corps took action after President
Donald Trump basically ordered his administration to approve the pipeline without further reviews. He did so without consulting either tribe on a government-to-government basis.
The tribes were hoping to address their concerns about oil spills, treaties and water rights through an environmental impact statement, or EIS, of the final portion of the pipeline. The Trump administration terminated the EIS, again without consulting the tribes.
In addition to the court fight, Standing Rock leaders are hoping to galvanize
public support with Native
Nations Rise in Washington. The event includes a symbolic camp near the Washington Monument starting on
March 7 and concludes with a march to the White House on March 10.
Indian Country #NoDAPL Briefs:
Sioux Tribe (February 21, 2017)
of Pojoaque / Association on American Indian Affairs / University of New Mexico
School of Law Natural Resources and Environmental Law Clinic (February 21,
Indigenous Women's Resource Center / 13 Tribes / 105 Non-Profit
Organizations (February 21, 2017)
of American Indians / 34 Tribes / 11 Tribal Organizations / 2 Civil Rights
Organizations (February 22, 2017)
Federal Register Notice:
of Termination of the Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in
Connection With Dakota Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe,
North Dakota (February 17, 2017)
Prior Federal Register Notice:
of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection With Dakota
Access, LLC's Request for an Easement To Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota
(January 18, 2017)
Dakota Access Pipeline Approval Documents:
Justice Notice | Department of
the Army Approval Memorandum | Notice
of Termination of EIS for Dakota Access Pipeline | Easement
Letter to Congressional Leadership
White House Documents:
Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (January 24,
Memorandum Regarding Construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline (January 24,
Order Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority
Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Memorandum Regarding Construction of American Pipelines (January 24,
Memorandum Streamlining Permitting and Reducing Regulatory Burdens for Domestic
Manufacturing (January 24, 2017)
Release: President Trump Takes Action to Expedite Priority Energy and
Infrastructure Projects (January 24, 2017)
Dakota gains financially with completion of Dakota Access (3/2)
Sun News Today: Evictions end historic #NoDAPL campsite (3/1)
LaDuke: Water protectors are still standing strong all over (3/1)
River Sioux Tribe waiting on Dakota Access injunction (2/28)
d'Errico: Yankton Sioux Tribe battles Dakota Access in court (2/28)
Nation citizens seek to join Dakota Access Pipeline lawsuit (2/27)
Access files another status update on construction work (2/27)
Trahant: The story of Standing Rock won't be going away (2/27)
Monet: Tribes continue fight as #NoDAPL camps evicted (2/27)
Bender: The war against Dakota Access can still be won (2/27)
Rock Sioux Tribe blasts Trump claim of 'constant contact' (2/24)
River Sioux Tribe calls out Trump 'lies' on Dakota Access (2/24)
River Sioux Tribe slams Trump for lack of consultation (2/23)
Country joins legal push to block Dakota Access Pipeline (2/22)
Access offers up March 6 as earliest date for completion (2/22)
administration opposes injunction against Dakota Access (2/22)
team puts hold on pro-tribal Dakota Access legal opinion (2/22)
Sun News Today: #NoDAPL campsites see their final days (2/22)
Cook-Lynn: Dakota Access is everything wrong with US (2/22)
Rock Sioux Tribe hopes to see return of casino business (2/21)
Gilio-Whitaker: Sen. Hoeven raises red flags in Indian Country (2/20)
of Indian Affairs issues 'trespass' notice to #NoDAPL camp (2/17)
on injunction against Dakota Access moved to February 28 (2/17)
Department formally cancels Dakota Access Pipeline review (2/16)
Sun News Today: Dakota Access firms see spills, explosions (2/16)
Giago Davies: Tribes face bigger threat than Dakota Access (2/16)
Mills: Tribes turn to courts to battle Dakota Access Pipeline (2/16)
Rock leader vows to 'forgive' despite White House slight (2/15)
Socialist: Voices from water protectors at Standing Rock (2/15)
leader of key House panel defends handling of Dakota Access (2/14)
Access ready to start transporting oil sooner than expected (2/13)
tribes join effort to halt completion of Dakota Access Pipeline (2/13)
Corps gave go ahead to Dakota Access Pipeline in key memo (2/13)
Trahant: Battle over Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over (2/13)
head back to court in hopes of halting Dakota Access Pipeline (2/10)
Access pushes to finish pipeline with Army Corps easement (2/9)
Charles: The real reason Trump hasn't heard about #NoDAPL (2/9)
Giago Davies: Dakota Access battle has got us divided again (2/9)
promise fight to keep Dakota Access Pipeline out of homeland (2/8)
Dakota Access document from Army Corps wasn't filed in court (2/8)
Gabriel Ware & James Trimarco: City breaks with bank over DAPL (2/8)
Loeffelholz Dunn: In defense of Native journalist Jenni Monet (2/8)
Luger: Media is still trying to divide and conquer our people (2/8)
d'Errico: Even Donald Trump can't trample over tribal treaties (2/8)
Carmen/Roberto Borrero: Trump's slash and burn on treaties (2/8)
administration formally approves easement for Dakota Access (2/7)
Trahant: Native journalist charged by North Dakota authorities (2/7)
Bender: Donald Trump goes blitzkrieg on #NoDAPL movement (2/7)
Access offers timeline as Trump finalizes decision on pipeline (2/6)
Bravebull Allard: Indigenous nations must stand our ground (2/6)
Monet: I got arrested for reporting on the #NoDAPL movement (2/6)
Cook: Now it is time for all of us to stand down at Standing Rock (2/6)
Madeson: More tribes joining with #DefundDAPL movement (2/3)
Trahant: Donald Trump's 'logic' on the Dakota Access Pipeline (2/1)
LaDuke: Tribes emboldened by resistance at Standing Rock (2/1)
Sun News Today: Tribes push back on Trump's pipeline orders (2/1)
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