Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline gather in front of the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., as part of the #IndigenousRising round dance on April 27, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Environment | Law | National | Politics

Dakota Access sued for damage to farmland as tribes seek assurances for water

The wealthy backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline are being sued by a family over damages to their farmland as tribes seek assurances that their treaty-protected water will be safe from oil spills.

The Slack family claims Dakota Access damaged 800 acres during construction of the $3.8 billion project in South Dakota, The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported. The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the state, the paper said.

“We got them the Cadillac version of the easement agreement, but in the end, Dakota Access still didn’t follow it,” attorney Glenn Boomsma told the paper.

Oil started flowing through the pipeline on June 1 over the objections of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. A federal judge later determined that the Trump administration approved the final portion in neighboring North Dakota without considering all of the impacts, including the potential for spills to affect water protected by their treaties.

Yet Judge James Boasberg refused to halt the flow of oil even after he acknowledged "deficiencies" in the way the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers handled the pipeline.

Before the ruling came down, both tribes sought "alternative measures," including an oil spill response plan for the final portion at Lake Oahe. The pipeline goes under the water at the lake, less than a half-mile from Standing Rock. Cheyenne River sits further downstream.

Indianz.Com on YouTube: #NoDAPL Mile Marker - National Museum of the American Indian

"Given that the tribes are sovereign governments with responsibility to manage emergencies in their own territory, and that any oil spill at the Oahe site would immediately and primarily affect their reservations, the tribes need to be full partners in preparing for oil spills," the tribes wrote in an August 8 filing. "However, neither the Corps nor DAPL has ever communicated with the tribes about spill response planning."

The Army Corps and Dakota Access responded to the "alternative measures" request in briefs filed on Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. Both are opposing any attempts to impose further conditions on the operation of the pipeline, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly bragged about since it was finalized in February.

"Now, what other politician, if elected president, would have done that?" Trump said during a speech at an oil refinery in North Dakota in September. "They would have stayed far away. And I did it immediately."

"I didn't even do it, in that case, for jobs -- it was the right thing to do," Trump said to cheers. "And that is flowing now beautifully. So it was the right thing to do."

Read More on the Story:
Dakota Access sued over farmland damage in South Dakota (The Sioux Falls Argus Leader November 1, 2017)
Dakota Access builder and Corps object to tribal proposal (The Associated Press November 2, 2017)

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