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Standing Rock’s pipeline protest swells into a movement

CANNON BALL, North Dakota — A Native American tribe’s efforts to halt construction of a crude oil pipeline in North Dakota have swelled into a movement, drawing international attention and the support of movie stars and social media, and making a major oil company blink.

While the tribe’s lawyers work to persuade a federal judge to withdraw permits for the pipeline in a ruling expected on Friday, thousands of protesters gathered at campgrounds near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands.

While the tribe’s lawyers work to persuade a federal judge to withdraw permits for the pipeline in a ruling expected on Friday, thousands of protesters gathered at campgrounds near Standing Rock Sioux Tribe lands.

“This is a new beginning, not just for our tribe, but for all tribes in this country,” said Standing Rock Sioux spokesman Ron His Horse is Thunder, one of the leaders hoping for a rebirth of Native American activism beyond the pipeline battle.

“This is a new beginning, not just for our tribe, but for all tribes in this country,” said Standing Rock Sioux spokesman Ron His Horse is Thunder, one of the leaders hoping for a rebirth of Native American activism beyond the pipeline battle.Representatives of 200 tribes and environmentalists have set up camp in the rolling hills near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in

Representatives of 200 tribes and environmentalists have set up camp in the rolling hills near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball rivers in sight of the proposed pipeline route.They say the planned pipeline, near but not on tribal land, runs through a sacred burial ground and could leak, polluting nearby rivers and poisoning the tribe’s water source.

They say the planned pipeline, near but not on tribal land, runs through a sacred burial ground and could leak, polluting nearby rivers and poisoning the tribe’s water source.

The 1,100 mile (1,770 km), $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline would carry oil from just north of the tribe’s land in North Dakota to Illinois, where it would hook up to an existing pipeline and route crude directly to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast.Protesters have included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who authorities say is part of a group under investigation for illegally spray-painting construction equipment at the site.

Protesters have included actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who authorities say is part of a group under investigation for illegally spray-painting construction equipment at the site.

“Our indigenous people have been warning for 500 years that the destruction of Mother Earth is going to come back and it’s going to harm us,” said David Archambault, tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux. “Now our voices are getting louder.”On Tuesday, U.S. Judge James Boasberg granted in part the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the

On Tuesday, U.S. Judge James Boasberg granted in part the tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order to stop the project, and said he would decide by Friday whether to grant the larger challenge to the pipeline, which would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw permits.Protesters were disappointed that the judge did not shut down construction altogether, but savored a small win when the group of companies building the pipeline, led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners through its Dakota Access subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.

Protesters were disappointed that the judge did not shut down construction altogether, but savored a small win when the group of companies building the pipeline, led by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners through its DakotaAccess subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.

Access subsidiary, agreed to stop some work until the final ruling.
The pipeline was fast-tracked by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year, but the project has been dogged by protests since April.It was envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains.

It was envisioned as a safer way to transport highly flammable oil extracted from the Bakken Shale formation in North Dakota, Montana and parts of Canada than on trains.In June, a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a school and the closure of a highway. In 2013, a runaway train in Canada crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.

In June, a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames in Oregon, forcing the evacuation of a school and the closure of a highway. In 2013, a runaway train in Canada crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic.

DIGGING IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is one of six reservations in the Dakotas that are all that remain of what was once the Great Sioux Reservation, which comprised all of South Dakota west of the Missouri River, including the Black Hills, which are considered sacred, according to the tribe’s website.The tribe has 15,000 members in the United States including as many as 8,000 in North and South Dakota. The reservation covers about 9,300 square miles (24,087 square km).

The tribe has 15,000 members in the United States including as many as 8,000 in North and South Dakota. The reservation covers about 9,300 square miles (24,087 square km).At campsites dotted with white tepees and colorful tents, many people prepared for the long haul.

At campsites dotted with white tepees and colorful tents, many people prepared for the long haul.”People are ready to stay through winter,” said Allyson Two Bears, who sits on the tribe’s emergency response team.

“People are ready to stay through winter,” said Allyson Two Bears, who sits on the tribe’s emergency response team.Members of an Ojibwe tribe are helping to erect lodges capable of withstanding North Dakota cold, and people from as far away as London and South Korea have joined the protest, signing their names to a map at the campsite.

Members of an Ojibwe tribe are helping to erect lodges capable of withstanding North Dakota cold, and people from as far away as London and South Korea have joined the protest, signing their names to a map at the campsite.The tribe has also enlisted the help of online petition website Change.org, which helped it gather more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the pipeline. Youth members of the tribe aged 6 to 25 ran a relay race from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petitions.

The tribe has also enlisted the help of online petition website Change.org, which helped it gather more than 250,000 signatures on a petition to stop the pipeline. Youth members of the tribe aged 6 to 25 ran a relay race from North Dakota to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petitions.The protest and lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux are not the first efforts by Native American and environmental groups to stop or reroute planned pipelines through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas.

The protest and lawsuit by the Standing Rock Sioux are not the first efforts by Native American and environmental groups to stop or reroute planned pipelines through culturally or environmentally sensitive areas.Aboriginal Canadian and Native American groups have opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, along with other pipeline projects.

Aboriginal Canadian and Native American groups have opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada to Nebraska, along with other pipeline projects.
Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has said he would approve TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline proposal if elected, reversing a decision by the administration of President Barack Obama to block it over environmental concerns. TransCanada has sued the U.S government to reverse Obama’s rejection of the pipeline.The Standing Rock Sioux have hired a political campaign director to publicize their actions to stop the North Dakota pipeline.

The Standing Rock Sioux have hired a political campaign director to publicize their actions to stop the North Dakota pipeline.”They’ve been making really good use of social media as part of this and that has actually changed the way Native American activism takes place,” said Katherine Hayes, chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

“They’ve been making really good use of social media as part of this and that has actually changed the way Native American activism takes place,” said Katherine Hayes, chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis/St. Paul.The Standing Rock Sioux sued in July. Last month, celebrity activists joined about 100 members of the tribe outside a Washington, D.C., courthouse where hearings were being held, while others demonstrated in North Dakota.

The Standing Rock Sioux sued in July. Last month, celebrity activists joined about 100 members of the tribe outside a Washington, D.C., courthouse where hearings were being held, while others demonstrated in North Dakota.Over the weekend of Sept. 3, protesters broke through a wire fence in an attempt to chase bulldozers grading the land. They were met by pipeline security staff and guard dogs.

Over the weekend of Sept. 3, protesters broke through a wire fence in an attempt to chase bulldozers grading the land. They were met by pipeline security staff and guard dogs.Actress Susan Sarandon, who joined the Washington protest, said she was there to help publicize the tribe’s cause.

Actress Susan Sarandon, who joined the Washington protest, said she was there to help publicize the tribe’s cause.”These kinds of things happen when people don’t have a voice,” Sarandon said, referring to the government’s decision to fast-track the project. “We have to give them a voice.”

“These kinds of things happen when people don’t have a voice,” Sarandon said, referring to the government’s decision to fast-track the project. “We have to give them a voice.”

Images from the protest site, by Reuters

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Sioux tribe sues after work for Dakota Access Pipeline destroys sacred sites

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an emergency motion on Sept. 4 for a temporary restraining order to prevent further destruction of the tribe’s sacred sites by Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Saturday, Dakota Access Pipeline and Energy Transfer Partners brazenly used bulldozers to destroy our burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts,” tribal chairman David Archambault II said. “They did this on a holiday weekend, one day after we filed court papers identifying these sacred sites. The desecration of these ancient places has already caused the Standing Rock Sioux irreparable harm. We’re asking the court to halt this path of destruction.”

After the initial destruction Sept. 3, Dakota Access Pipeline returned to the area and dug up additional grounds in the pre-dawn hours Sept. 4, Archambault said.

The motion seeks to prevent additional construction work on an area 2 miles west of North Dakota Highway 1806, and within 20 miles of Lake Oahe until a judge rules on the tribe’s previous motion to stop construction.

That motion is based on the Standing Rock Sioux’s assertion that it was not properly consulted before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracked approval of the pipeline project.

A decision on the case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is expected by Sept. 9.

“Destroying the tribe’s sacred places over a holiday weekend, while the judge is considering whether to block the pipeline, shows a flagrant disregard for the legal process,” said Jan Hasselman, attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux. “The Tribe has been seeking to vindicate its rights peacefully through the courts. But Dakota Access Pipeline used evidence submitted to the court as their roadmap for what to bulldoze. That’s just wrong.”

Thousands of people from more than 200 Native Tribes have joined the Standing Rock Sioux’s efforts to protect their lands, waters and sacred sites from harm during construction of the 1,200-mile pipeline.

If built, the line would carry a half-million barrels of crude oil across the tribe’s treaty lands each day.

Sioux tribe sues Army Corps over Bakken pipeline project

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, claiming a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act after the agency issued permits for a massive crude oil pipeline stretching from North Dakota to Illinois.

The complaint, filed in federal court in Washington D.C., by Earthjustice, says the Corps dismissed tribal concerns and ignored the pipeline’s impacts to sacred sites and culturally important landscapes.

The Dakota Access Pipeline project, also known as Bakken Oil Pipeline, would extend 1,168 miles across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, crossing through communities, farms, tribal land, sensitive natural areas and wildlife habitat.

The pipeline would carry crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Illinois where it will link with another pipeline that will transport the oil to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

The pipeline would travel through the tribe’s ancestral lands and pass within a half mile of the reservation.

The permit allows for the digging of the pipeline under the Missouri River just upstream of the reservation and the tribe’s drinking water supply.

An oil spill at this site would threaten the tribe’s culture and way of life, the plaintiffs claim.

“The corps puts our water and the lives and livelihoods of many in jeopardy,” said Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, based in Fort Yates, North Dakota. “We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites. But the Army Corps has ignored all those laws and fast-tracked this massive project just to meet the pipeline’s aggressive construction schedule.”

“There have been shopping malls that have received more environmental review and Tribal consultation than this massive crude oil pipeline,” added Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice attorney representing the tribe in the litigation. “Pipelines spill and leak — it’s not a matter of if, but when. Construction will destroy sacred and historically significant sites. We need to take a time out and ensure that the Corps follows the law before rushing ahead with permits.”

Despite objections by the Standing Rock Sioux and other organizations, construction of the pipeline has begun.

The Standing Rock Sioux have led a national campaign to draw attention to the pipeline.

The tribe has launched an international campaign, called Rezpect our Water, asking the Army Corps to deny the key permits for the pipeline.

In late July, tribal youth were running from North Dakota to Washington D.C., to deliver the 140,000 petition signatures to the Army Corps.

Up to 29,000 gallons of crude oil spew from California pipeline

An underground pipeline spewed thousands of gallons of crude oil Thursday near the Southern California coast but the foul-smelling goo was contained in a lengthy stretch of ravine and never reached nearby beaches.

About 29,000 gallons of oil spilled and flowed at least a quarter-mile in the canyon near Ventura, fire authorities said.

Resident Kirk Atwater said he called 911 after smelling and hearing the flowing crude.

“We started getting this horrendous smell and I knew right away what it was,” he said.

Atwater, 56, said he went up the canyon on his motor scooter and found the crude oil gushing from an above-ground box that he surmised covers equipment.

“It was just pouring out like water coming out of a fire hydrant,” he said.

He said he found a posted phone number and reported the leak to the pipeline company.

Fire crews responded and a pump house operating the line was shut down. Firefighters built a dam of dirt to keep the crude oil from moving farther.

The oil left a black stain down the brush- and tree-filled arroyo.

The line operator, Crimson Pipeline, put the estimated spill at 25,200 gallons released, said spokeswoman Kendall Klingler. The cause was under investigation, she said.

The spill was the 11th for Crimson since 2006, with prior releases totaling 313,000 gallons of crude oil and causing $5.9 million in property damage, according to accident reports submitted by the company to federal regulators and reviewed by The Associated Press.

The largest was a 2008 spill of 280,000 gallons — one of three blamed on an equipment failure. All the spills occurred in Southern California.

The leak Thursday occurred near a valve on an underground line that runs from Ventura to Los Angeles. The line was closed for maintenance and crews had replaced that valve the day before, Klingler said.

The line contained a total of 84,000 gallons of crude.

“The initial concern was that there was a chance that it could have made its way further, but the spill was contained very early on and a lot of damage has been mitigated because of that,” Klingler said.

The spill occurred in the Hall Canyon area and flowed into the Prince Barranca, a ravine that ends near the Ventura Pier. Initial projections that up to 210,000 gallons may have spilled were later reduced.

The oil was produced by a company called Aera Energy.

Firefighters had a training exercise with Crimson and an oil spill cleanup company about two weeks ago, including building a dam as was done Thursday, Ventura County fire Capt. Scott Quirarte said.

Four of the prior Crimson spills were blamed on corrosion and two on excavation damage. An electrical arc from a power pole was the cause of another leak.

Klinger defended the company’s safety record and said most of the past spills were caused by third parties.

The company says its California network traverses about 1,000 miles and moves nearly 200,000 barrels — 8.4 million gallons — of oil daily.

The Crimson line is an intrastate pipe, meaning it does not cross out of California and is therefore outside of federal jurisdiction, said Artealia Gilliard, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Gilliard said the federal agency was sending personnel to assist on scene but California officials would lead the investigation.

The line was up to date on its government inspections, Klingler the pipeline spokeswoman said, though she wasn’t able to say when the last one was done. A message to the office of the state fire marshal, which oversees inspections, was not immediately returned.

The spill came 13 months after more than 120,000 gallons of oil spilled on the coast of neighboring Santa Barbara County. Some of the crude flowed into the ocean at Refugio State Beach and killed birds and sea lions.

That pipeline, owned by Plains All American Pipeline, was found to have corrosion.

Federal regulators said last month that Plains failed to prevent corrosion in its pipes, detect the rupture or respond swiftly as crude streamed toward the ocean on May 19, 2015.

The report was issued just two days after Plains was indicted in Santa Barbara County Superior Court on 46 criminal counts, including four felonies of polluting state waters and three dozen misdemeanors of harming wildlife.

AP reporters John Antczak in Los Angeles and Matthew Brown in Billings, Montana, contributed to this report.

 

Ron Kind urges House vote on rail safety bill | 3rd derailment in Midwest in 3 days

U.S. Rep. Ron Kind on Nov. 9 urged the House leadership to immediately bring his rail safety legislation to a floor for a vote.

Kind’s call comes after two train derailments in Wisconsin over the weekend and one in Des Moines on Nov. 9.

“The derailments this weekend in Alma and Watertown showed once again the negative impact increased rail traffic is having on our communities and environment. Fortunately, no injuries were reported at either derailment, but dozens of people were forced to temporarily evacuate their homes and nearly 20,000 gallons of ethanol spilled into the Mississippi River,” the Democratic congressman said in a statement to the press. “The increase in rail traffic shows no signs of stopping, which is why we must take immediate action to prevent future derailments. I am calling on House leadership to hold a vote on my legislation which will provide for stronger rail safety standards and will increase oversight.” 

On Nov. 9, crews in Wisconsin were working to clear freight cars from rail tracks and contain spilled crude oil and chemicals after derailments in the state.

A Canadian Pacific Railway train loaded with crude oil derailed in Watertown on Nov. 8. One car spilled hundreds of gallons of crude oil and caused the evacuation of a neighborhood. 

On Nov. 7, 25 BNSF train cars including tankers derailed, spilling as much as 20,000 gallons of ethanol from five tankers along the shores on the Mississippi River near Alma in western Wisconsin, according to the AP.

BNSF said railroad crews stopped the leaks from five tanker cars and placed containment booms along the shoreline.

Then, on Nov. 9, nearly two dozen cars derailed when a coal train hit a road grader.

Accidents involving shipments of hazardous fuels by rail have spiked over the past decade, corresponding with a sharp rise in the production of ethanol from the Midwest and oil from the Bakken crude region of North Dakota and Montana.

At least 26 oil trains and 11 ethanol trains have been involved in major fires, derailments or spills during the past decade in the U.S. and Canada, according to an Associated Press tally from data kept by transportation agencies and safety investigators from the two nations.

The most devastating, in July 2013, killed 47 people and destroyed much of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when an unmanned, out-of-control train hauling Bakken oil crashed and exploded in the city’s downtown.

The Crude-by-Rail Safety Act sponsored by Kind would prohibit the use of unsafe DOT-111 tank cars, such as the ones involved in the Alma derailment, according to Kind’s office.

 

Train carrying crude oil derails in Wisconsin, 2nd derailment in 2 days

A Canadian Pacific Railway train carrying crude oil derailed Sun., Nov. 8, in Watertown, Wisconsin, spilling as many as 1,000 gallons of crude oil and prompting evacuations. The incident marked the second day in a row that a freight train derailed in the state.

At least 10 cars and as many as 25, some of them leaking oil, derailed at about 2 p.m. No fires or injuries were reported.

Residents of about 35 homes were asked to evacuate.

The incident came just one day after a BNSF freight train derailed near Alma, a Mississippi River town, spilling thousands of gallons of ethanol. BNSF Railway said crews continued Sunday to transfer ethanol from the derailed cars and get the cars back on the tracks.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the Nov. 7 derailment was the third in nine months to occur on the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife Refuge. The area is in the middle of the waterfowl migration along the Mississippi Flyway.

Railroad crews stopped the leaks from five tanker cars and placed containment booms along the shoreline, according to BNSF. One tanker released an estimated 18,000 gallons of ethanol, and the other four released an estimated 5 to 500 gallons each.

Midwest Environmental Advocates has sued to halt a planned expansion of rail lines carrying crude oil through the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

Calling all kayaktivists and more: | Crude oil pipeline on rails threatens our waterways

The dangers of shipping crude oil over and along our waterways will be highlighted by clean water advocates gathering at the confluence of the Menomonee and Milwaukee Rivers, near the railroad swing bridge.

This bridge is one of many in the metro area where trains carrying volatile crude oil cross or travel near local rivers. The railroad system was not laid out with this kind of cargo in mind. Nationally, oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the past five years, and oil trains are also much longer, which concentrates the risk of an accident, especially in urban areas.

Crude oil trains threaten the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Kinnickinic Rivers and Lake Michigan.

After decades of clean water work, we are alarmed to see an oil pipeline on rails emerge in our metro area. Work to improve water quality and wildlife habitat has also been an essential part of the revitalization of many parts of Milwaukee including the Third Ward, Menomonee Valley, and the Milwaukee River Greenway, and is critical to success of new efforts to develop the Inner Harbor..

An oil spill would have serious environmental and economic consequences.

Citizens have many questions about emergency response plans if a crude oil train were to derail and oil spill into waterways. Many oil trains — some with 100 cars of more — contain the same quantity of oil as an oil tanker, but are not required to have the same level of spill response plans or safety precautions.

Who would respond? How would this oil be contained and cleaned up? What would happen in winter when there is ice cover and oil spill recovery becomes nearly impossible? How would seiche currents impact clean up efforts? What are the implications for our drinking water and quality of life? 

Please join clean water advocates for a visibility event highlighting the danger oil trains pose to our waterways.

When: Sunday, September 13, 3 p.m.

What: A gathering of kayaks, canoes and banners. Paddlers and other clean water supporters will join in singing and drumming with the One Drop ensemble of Jahmes Finlayson and Dena Aronson. Dona Yahola will begin the event with an Ojibwe water prayer and song.

Where: Participants will be near the Railroad Swing Bridge at the Confluence of the Menomonee and Milwaukee Rivers. Convergence at the Confluence. Third Ward Riverwalk.

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