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Grassroots pipeline opponents note that man-camps for oil industry construction are proven threats, resulting in MMIW, missing and murdered indigenous women. Photo courtesy Ní Btháska Stand
Standing Rock Chair thanks federal regulators
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Native Sun News Today Health & Environment Editor

FT. YATES, North Dakota – Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Mike Faith spoke for many when he thanked federal regulators October 23 for granting Oceti Sakowin requests to extend the scoping period for public comment and government-to-government consultation on the Dakota Access Pipeline environmental impact statement.

His tribe, followed by the Cheyenne River Sioux, Yankton Sioux, and Oglala Sioux tribes, successfully sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain a court order March 25 for elaboration of the environmental impact statement.

Time was running out for input during the scoping period set to end October 26 when Omaha Army Corps District Commander Col. Mark Himes advised Faith of the extension until November 26.

“We thank Col. Himes for granting this extension, as it very important for the tribe to have input at this early stage of the process,” Faith said. “We thank everyone who continues to support us in this ongoing effort,” he added.

In the Native-led effort to prevent construction of the hazardous materials line across the Missouri River just upstream from the tribal drinking water intake, tens of thousands of grassroots supporters from around the world rallied at encampments on unceded 1851 Ft. Laramie Treaty lands here in 2016-2017 to support tribal government opposition.

Nonetheless, the Corp of Engineers permitted the crossing with only an environmental assessment, which is a document that requires less public consultation than an impact statement.

The tribal lawsuits to obtain an expanded process attracted legal support from the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA), the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), and the National Congress of American Indians Fund (NCAI Fund).

“The decision ensures that the treaty-reserved rights of the plaintiff tribes – the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and the Oglala Sioux Tribe – are adequately addressed, along with any other land and natural resource considerations, in a full-fledged and well-documented environmental review process,” they said after the legal coup.

It was March 25 when U.S. District of Columbia Judge James Boasberg ruled the Army Corps broke the National Environmental Protection Act by permitting an easement without executing the impact statement required.

The recent extension of the scoping period for comment gives the public until November 26 to submit testimony.

At a live online public scoping meeting conducted from Omaha, Nebraska, on October 16, all commenters in the hourlong event expressed doubts and opposition to permitting the easement in the same terms as before.

Participant Meryl Tihanyi reminded the Corps of the ongoing Superfund cleanup in Michigan state created by the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil pipeline spill, considered to be the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.

A Michigan resident, DAPL encampment chef Matthew Shawn Borke, sued Energy Transfer and its Rover Pipeline contractor Leighton Security on October 13. Leighton subcontracted with the controversial private counterintelligence firm TigerSwan LLC during the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance at Standing Rock.

Borke, a participant in Michigan Residents Against the Rover Pipeline, accused defendants of illegally hiring sheriffs’ officers to act as private security for the Rover and for depriving him of his constitutional rights in the process of his advocacy for environmental protection from it. The civil rights case, which requests payment for damages, names Energy Transfer Chair and CEO Kelcy Warren, a Dallas billionaire who is one of the top donors to U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2019-2020 re-election campaign.

Trump had $500,000 to $1 million invested in Energy Transfer before becoming President, and as soon as he took office ordered the Army Corps to facilitate DAPL’s Missouri River crossing easement permit. It had been denied under the previous administration of President Barack Obama. Trump’s campaign pledged to jump start the stranded project.

This August, Warren donated $10,000 to the America First Action super political action committee, which backs Trump’s reelection, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign funding watchdog organization. Energy Transfer has joined as a defendant on the side of the Corps in the tribes’ DAPL lawsuits.

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