John Hanno, tarbabys.com September 15, 2016
“Dakota Access 2.0”
I knew Native American tribes and protesting landowners couldn’t rely on our state courts to save America’s precious water and valuable farmland from the Dakota Access Pipeline Operators. Red State courts are joined at the hip with the fossil fuel industry. I also believed there was only a slim chance U.S. District Judge Boasberg would rule in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux.
Once the Army Corps approves these pipelines, its a done deal. They’re routinely rubber stamped by controlling State agencies; the Public Service Commission in North Dakota, the Commerce Commission in Illinois (ICC) and the Iowa Utilities Board, a three person board appointed by Republican Governor Brandstad. Once the pipeline company is granted eminent domain authority, they threaten and intimidate landowners into signing easements. And that authority ties the hands of state courts. The only issue these state courts then rule on is the compensation to the landowners. And its seldom in the landowners favor. Landowners aren’t even allowed to testify concerning the value of their own land, no matter how many generations (Centennial Farms) they’ve owned that land.
Enbridge (who just purchased 49% of DAPL) wanted to run pipeline 78 across our organic farm. Pipeline 78 and Flanagan South pipeline join Dakota Assess at Patoka, IL. The easement they wanted, granted them the ability to “abandon in place” when they’re finished with the pipeline. We know landowners and the American taxpayer will be stuck digging up the more than 250,000 mile of rusting pipelines, leaking into our precious water supplies. When we refused to sign the easement, they filed eminent domain. We lost in state court; but appealed the case. You can read about our fight against Enbridge at gofundme.com/2xpggwfw.
Based on that fight, I believe the court action blocking eminent domain actions against Iowa landowners and farmers is only a temporary obstacle for DAPO. Those landowners can only hope their case is eventually decided by the Iowa Supreme Court. This abuse of eminent domain principles by private and foreign corporations for private gain not only violates the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but also violates Native American treaties and sovereignty, and should be roundly condemned by state supreme courts and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court. Even though many of these state courts are packed with very conservative, business friendly judges, I just can’t believe any true conservative would favor these private interests over property owners.
There is hope; several contested eminent domain actions have been addressed by State Supreme Courts. The Kentucky Supreme Court has let stand an appeals court decision that said only regulated utility companies can use the power of eminent domain to take land for pipelines. Tony Arnold, A University of Louisville law professor, an expert on environmental law, said the Kentucky Supreme Court decision was “significant for both opponents of the Bluegrass Pipeline and for all Kentucky residents who want to ensure that the exercise of eminent domain for energy development and transmission is held accountable to the public interest.”
A Pennsylvania appeals court rejected an action by Sunoco to dismiss a challenge to it’s Mariner 2 pipeline. Environmental group, The Clean Air Council can now argue against the company using eminent domain to build the pipeline.
Within minutes of Judge Boasberg’s ruling against Standing Rock Sioux, they caught a Hail Mary pass from a joint decision of the Departments of Justice, Army, Interior and probably from the White House and President Obama. The Corp said “The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws….”
Based on this joint decision, it appears the administration is willing to revisit the impact of these fossil fuel time-bombs in the context of these larger issues; and also on global warming and climate change, as they did with Keystone XL.
Canada, North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and other states are under siege from Canadian Company Enbridge’s pipeline network expansion and their mad rush to blanket America in pipelines before sustainable energy progress makes fossil fuel assets obsolete.
Enbridge recently announced they would cancel plans for the $2.6 billion, 616 mile Sandpiper Pipeline Project, a pipeline running from the Bakken field in North Dakota, across Minnesota (land of 10,000 lakes) to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge blamed low energy prices and “extensive and unprecedented regulatory delays and irregularities,” (Go Minnesota). But Sandpiper faced strong protests from environmentalists and Native American tribes. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said the pipeline would have crossed 28 rivers, lakes and wetlands. These threatened, ecologically sensitive areas couldn’t be reached by existing roads. How could Enbridge have possibly discovered, controlled or re-mediated an oil spill? (Google Kalamazoo River Oil Spill) Enbridge has instead invested $1.5 billion in this Bakken Pipeline System (DAPL).
The Justice Department also stated: “Furthermore, this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects….” including “protection of tribal lands, resources and treaty rights….”
“Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, was critical of the Obama administration’s move in a statement, calling it “deeply troubling” and saying it could have a chilling effect on infrastructure development in the U.S.”
WELL LETS CERTAINLY HOPE SO! We need infrastructure projects beneficial to all American’s (including Native Americans) and not just oil, gas and pipeline companies, their executives and their financial benefactors. America needs comprehensive energy reform, not a country riddled with oil, gas and injection wells, oozing and leaking, contaminating fertile farm soil and precious water supplies and shifting our tectonic plates (Hello shaky Oklahoma). And instead of 250,000 miles of ticking time bomb pipelines, how about 250,000 miles of 100 ft wide bike paths. Can you even imagine the benefits. A big win, win, win; keep FF in the ground, save energy by biking instead of driving and at the same time, we improve our health and lower Obama Care costs. And they would cost a minute fraction of these pipelines.
Alternative energy is growing exponentially and fossil fuels will must obsolete within 20 years, if mankind is to survive. Little Costa Rica’s electric grid has been powered entirely by its mix of hydro power, wind, solar, geothermal and biomass for 150 days so far this year. Since June 16th, they’ve gone 90 plus consecutive days and counting, in which all electricity has come from renewable resources. In 2015, they were powered by 99% renewable. Although Costa Rica is blessed with favorable alt energy potential, (80% of their power comes from hydro power) America can and must do better! We are blessed with substantial solar and wind power potential, if only we would take full advantage, instead of pandering to fossil fuel and their desperate campaign against wind and solar progress and subsidies.
The Justice Department went on: “Finally, we fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely…” “In recent days, we have seen demonstrators come together peacefully, with support from scores of sovereign tribal governments, to exercise their First Amendment rights and to voice heartfelt concerns about the environment and historic, sacred sites. It is now incumbent on all of us to develop a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
The “broadest public interest” must include the welfare of Native Americans, (the very first environmentalists) and everyone else who cherishes our blessings of clean air, fertile soil and pure water. I think the half dozen or more letters sent to the White House and signed on by 100’s of thousands of Native Americans, environmentalists, farmers, landowners and fed-up American’s, obviously had an impact on the President and his administration. Social Media (and not just in America) is watching and talking and commenting (even in Laos) and filming and they refuse to allow our Native American brothers and sisters to get dumped on again. And they’re sick and tired of the fossil fuel industry and their paid political lackeys, denying climate change, ignoring overwhelming scientific proof of global warming, controlling the energy agenda by refusing to support comprehensive energy reform and obfuscating and fighting at every turn (Exxon Mobile), the potential of sustainable alternative energy.
Justice added: “The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution….”
But President Obama has stated many times that he can’t act alone. Lacking any support from the Republican controlled Congress, It will take overwhelming support from the American Public for him to take executive action. The DAPL opponent’s job now, is to turn the Army Corps “expeditious and timely resolution” into a peaceful slow walk. If they can stall this pipeline through this winter, anything can happen. Cushing, Oklahoma can’t find anywhere else to stockpile surplus oil. And all those earthquakes are striking closer to those storage terminals.
More than 100,000 water and soil protectors, Native tribes, farmers, landowners and activists from Bold Nebraska, the Sierra Club, IL Climate Activists, Bold Iowa, 350.org and others, inspired President Obama to decide against approving Keystone XL.
This stand by the Native Tribe’s affiliated with the Sacred Stone Camp has struck a nerve with America’s environmental and progressive communities. Unlike fossil fuel proponents and their political panderers, these Native Americans have a sacred and spiritual connection to their land and water. They and most farm families cherish the blessings Americans have been given with fertile land and pure water.
Common Sense American’s, including True Conservatives, must stand up in such numbers that the President can’t ignore his duty to protect our environment. Contact your elected officials and especially the White House. Support Bold Nebraska, IL Climate Activists, 350 Kiswaukee, MN350, The Sierra Club, Resilience, Action Network.org, Bold Iowa, the Sacred Stone Camp gofundme campaign and anyone else who believes in environmental common sense. And please don’t forget to vote in November. Fossil fuel pandering politicians, cherish campaign contributions but could care less about American’s, their air, their soil, their precious drinking water, and their children’s and grandchildren’s future. This election is an important turning point in the fight to preserve humanity. If your candidates deny climate change or say they aren’t scientists and don’t know enough to make rational decisions about our climate and comprehensive energy reform, kick them to the curb. They’re too ignorant or corrupt to deserve your vote. I believe our Native American brothers and sisters might stop this pipeline. John Hanno
Rich Yes, vote them all out
John, Rich Not all of them, just the ones that don’t know the difference between oil and water.