Tag Archives: army corp of engineers

Timber company’s sand plants would destroy Wisconsin wetlands

A timber company subsidiary is looking to build a pair of sand processing facilities in western Wisconsin that would eliminate more than 16 acres of wetlands.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports Meteor Timber wants to build sand drying plant along Interstate 94 in Monroe County and a sand mine 14 miles away in neighboring Jackson County. Together the facilities would be valued at $65 million and create nearly 100 jobs, the newspaper reported.

Sand would be trucked from the mine to the drying plant. Meteor would build a 10-mile railroad spur to a Union Pacific line to transport the sand to Texas oil fields, where it would be used for hydraulic fracking.

The project would eliminate 16.6 acres of wetlands, including more than 13 acres of hardwood swamp. Jeffrey M. Olson, a section chief for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, called some of that land pristine, saying it’s never been touched.

The state Department of Natural Resources has issued 60 wetland permits to sand operators since 2008, allowing the destruction of 26 acres.

Meteor’s wetland use would amount to 60 percent of that total.

Meteor needs approval from both the DNR and the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed. Both entities require that disturbing wetlands be avoided whenever possible but Meteor is trying to persuade the DNR and the corps that no alternative sites are suitable.

Midwest Environmental Advocates, an environmental law firm, is representing the Ho-Chunk Nation, which has tribal trust lands in the area. The firm is urging the corps and the DNR to deny permits for the project. Sarah Greers, an attorney for the firm, questioned why other sites can’t be found and why the company wants to build the facilities since the sand mining industry has slowed.

Christopher Mathis, managing director of real estate for Meteor, said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel that the company is sensitive to wetland impacts but can’t find any other commercially viable sites.

Meteor would preserve 358 acres on the property, shut down a cranberry marsh and remove dams from the marsh to naturalize a creek on the property, the Journal Sentinel reported. The company also would pay to restore wetlands in the same watershed.

Meteor, a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Timberland Investment Resources, has nearly 50,000 acres in forest holdings in Wisconsin.

 

 

Army halts work on Dakota Access Pipeline, calls for re-routing it

The  Army Corp of Engineers announced this afternoon that it will not grant an easement for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

Instead, the Army Corp of Engineers will study the environmental impact of rerouting the 1,172-mile pipeline, which is 87 percent complete. The current route would have run within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Tribal leaders and environmentalists are concerned that a rupture in the line would contaminate the reservation’s water.

Such pipeline breaches are rare but have caused massive damage.

Once complete, the Dakota Access Pipeline will carry 470,000 barrels of light crude oil per day from northwestern North Dakota to south-central Illinois.

In September, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline, won a federal lawsuit granting it the right to complete the pipeline on its opposed path. But protesters who had begun blocking construction in August refused to disperse. They’ve built an encampment at the site that has attracted supportive people from all over the world, including celebrities and other high-profile personalities.

Las month, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess its original conclusion that the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing would not affect tribal members. An independent consultant hired by the tribe had found that the federal government’s environmental assessment of the pipeline’s impact was unsound.

In fact, Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc., a consulting firm that advises government agencies and industry about pipelines, said an oil spill at Standing Rock would also impact an estimated 17 million people downstream from the river.

As reported today by The Associated Press, U.S. Secretary for the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement that the Corps’ “thoughtful approach … ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts.”

Jewell also said that the decision today “underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”

Energy Transfer Partners has said in the past that it would not reroute the pipeline. Speculation is that the company will wait until President-elect Donald Trump takes office and then go forward with its original plans. During his campaign, Trump promised to get rid of government “red tape” and federal regulations that stall energy projects due to their environmental impact.

Federal financial disclosures filed in May showed that Trump owns interest in the pipeline and that Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy. Warren also donated $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

Although the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route still hangs in the balance, Archambault said in a statement today that “with this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom have sacrificed as well.”

The epic, months-long standoff between law enforcement and pipeline protesters has escalated recently at the main protest site, Oceti Sakowin Camp. Hundreds of veterans traveled to the encampment last week to protect the protesters, who have been ordered to disperse on Monday.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced Friday in a videotaped statement that she was dispatching federal mediators to ensure the ongoing standoff did not erupt into violence.

But the Army’s announcement today appears to have eased tensions, at least for the time being.

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” Archambault said.

National day of action set to protest Dakota Access Pipeline

A national day of action will take place Tuesday, Nov. 15, to call for a permanent rejection of the Dakota Access Pipeline under the threat of a Donald Trump presidency.

This call to action from indigenous leaders at Standing Rock, North Dakota, is in response to increased violent repression from militarized police as the pipeline company continues construction on sacred land despite a voluntary hold by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to a news release from organizers.

More than 200 actions have been planned, with thousands of people expected to participate.

The Indigenous Environmental Network and Honor the Earth is coordinating the effort in solidarity with indigenous peoples at Standing Rock and with support from other climate and social justice groups across the country, including: 350.org, Native Organizers Alliance, National Nurses United, Hip Hop Caucus, CREDO, BOLD Alliance, Greenpeace USA, Beyond Extreme Energy, Rainforest Action Network, Stand.earth, Oil Change International, Our Revolution, Center for Popular Democracy, Powershift Network, Earthworks, Food and Water Watch, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ, Center for Biological Diversity, Daily Kos, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Iraq Veterans against the War, Ruckus Society, Friends of the Earth, Climate Hawks Vote, and many more.

Actions will be held in Washington, New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and dozens of other cities across the country and worldwide.

A list of actions and partner organizations can be found here, including details for actions in Wisconsin cities of Green Bay, Milwaukee, Madison and Stevens Point.