Tag Archives: permit

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters celebrate, remain at camp

Thousands of protesters in North Dakota celebrated after the federal government ruled against a controversial pipeline project but were mindful the fight is not over, as the company building the line said it had no plans for re-routing the pipe.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Sunday it rejected an application to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to tunnel under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.

The decision came after months of protests from Native Americans and activists, who argued that the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline would damage sacred lands and could contaminate the tribe’s water source.
Energy Transfer Partners, in a joint statement with its partner, Sunoco Logistics Partners, said late on Sunday they do not intend to reroute the line, calling the Obama administration’s decision a “political action.” They said they still expect the project to be completed, noting that the Army Corps said they had followed all required legal procedures in the permitting process.

The mood among protesters has been upbeat since the rejection was announced at the Oceti Sakowin camp in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Activists were seen hugging and letting out war cries in response to the news.

With the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump supportive of the project, activists were concerned a reversal could be coming.

“This is a temporary celebration. I think this is just a rest,” said Charlotte Bad Cob, 30, from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. “With a new government it could turn and we could be at it again.”

The pipeline is complete except for a 1-mile (1.61 km)segment to run under Lake Oahe. That stretch required an easement from federal authorities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will analyze possible alternate routes, although any other route also is likely to cross the Missouri River.

The protest camp’s numbers have swelled in recent days, as hundreds of U.S. veterans have flocked to North Dakota in support of the protesters.

Some of those in a long line of traffic along Highway 1806 heading into the camp hollered and honked their horns after the news was announced.

Craig Edward Morning, 30, a carpenter from Stony Point, New York, said he will leave when the tribe says he should and the company agrees to stop building the line.

“They retreat first,” he said. “They’re the ones that aren’t welcome.”


Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II, in a statement, said he hoped ETP, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple and Trump would respect the decision.
“When it comes to infrastructure development in Indian Country and with respect to treaty lands, we must strive to work together to reach decisions that reflect the multifaceted considerations of tribes,” he said.

Trump could direct authorities to approve the line, even if before he takes over from Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20 federal authorities will be studying alternative routes. North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, a Republican, who has advised Trump on energy policy, said the decision ignores the rule of law.

Tom Goldtooth, a Lakota from Minnesota, and a co-founder of Indigenous Environmental Network, said he expects Trump to try to reverse the decision.

“I think we’re going to be in this for the long haul. That’s what my fear is,” he said.

In November, ETP moved equipment to the edge of the Missouri River to prepare for drilling, and later asked a federal court to disregard the Army Corps, and declare that the company could finish the line. That ruling is still pending.

Several veterans who recently arrived in camp told Reuters they thought Sunday’s decision, which came just as Oceti Sakowin has seen an influx of service members, was a tactic to convince protesters to leave.

Those spoken to after the decision said they had no plans to leave because they anticipate heated opposition from ETP and the incoming administration.

“That drill is still on the drill pad. Until that’s gone, this is not over,” said Matthew Crane, 32, from Buffalo, New York, who arrived with a contingent of veterans last week.

On the Web

Stand with Standing Rock.

Wisconsinites ask court to block rail expansion through marsh pending legal review

La Crosse area citizens suing over a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources permit for a Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway rail line expansion through the La Crosse River Marsh want the court to put the permit on hold while the legal challenge is considered.

“Petitioners took this action today because the court has the power and discretion to put a hold on the permit so that citizens have their day in court before the damage to the marsh is done,” said Sarah Williams, staff attorney for the Midwest Environmental Advocates. “It is particularly important that the court grant citizens’ request for a stay as soon as possible because BNSF is now allowed to continue constructing in the marsh during the endangered black tern nesting period.” 

The challenge is not only on the direct impacts to the 7.2 acres of wetlands that railway company would fill, but also on the indirect and cumulative impacts of the project. The Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act, according to the MEA, requires the DNR to prepare an environmental analysis including indirect and cumulative impacts of the project.

The MEA said the DNR’s failure to disclose and consider numerous and significant environmental impacts that may result from the project demonstrates the permitting program does not provide an environmental analysis equivalent to that required by WEPA.

Numerous residents of La Crosse and the surrounding area raised concerns about the project, including:

• The risk of environmental harm and threat to public safety from a train derailment carrying hazardous materials such as crude oil.

• Disturbance to neighbors of the tracks from increased noise, vibration and air pollution from more and more frequent trains passing through.

• The incremental impact of another wetland fill in the La Crosse River Marsh, which already has been reduced to half its size from previous developments.

• Impacts from construction and operation of the second track on the Mississippi River, which is adjacent to and downstream from the La Crosse River Marsh.

MEA said the DNR failed to consider these impacts in the permitting decision.

Citizens also raised concerns about the impacts of the project on threatened and endangered species in the marsh. Throughout the permitting process, the DNR has received numerous comments from the public about the importance of the marsh for bald eagles, black terns, Northern long-eared bats and other species for which the marsh is a nesting ground, provides habitat or serves as a stop along an international migratory path. 

In spite of significant public concern and involvement regarding impacts to these sensitive species, the DNR issued an amendment to the BNSF permit that allows construction in the marsh during black tern nesting, which was prohibited in the original BNSF permit. The DNR made this change to the BNSF permit without a public notice and comment period.

The DNR subsequently imposed additional conditions on construction during black tern nesting and created a construction avoidance zone. However, the DNR’s process of amending the permit without notice and modifying permit conditions through a separate authorization creates a moving target and does not allow for meaningful public involvement, according to the MEA.

A hearing for the motion to stay the permit is scheduled for June 22.

Enbridge delays pipeline at least 1 year

A Canadian company that wants to build the largest oil pipeline yet from western North Dakota’s booming oil patch is delaying the project for at least a year due to permitting problems in Minnesota.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Energy Partners LP disclosed the delay of the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline in a filing this week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Enbridge is trying to build the 612-mile pipeline to carry 225,000 barrels of oil a day through northern Minnesota to a hub in Wisconsin. The pipeline was expected to be ready in early 2016, but because of a “longer than expected permitting process” in Minnesota, it likely won’t be in service until 2017, Enbridge spokeswoman Katie Haarsager said.

She said the company wasn’t sure about the financial repercussions, and that Enbridge secured shipping contracts for the pipeline last spring.

Minnesota regulators have requested an expanded study of the environmental impacts of six possible routes of the pipeline that were suggested by critics of Enbridge’s planned route, which crosses many rivers, lakes and wetlands. Enbridge says the alternative routes would be longer and more costly, and most don’t end in its intended destination of Superior, Wisconsin.

The delay also will affect North Dakota oil producers, though it shouldn’t have an immediate impact on production, according to North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad.

“Projects like this are vital to move our crude safely to markets throughout the U.S.,” Kringstad said.

North Dakota – the nation’s second-leading producer of oil behind Texas – has more than doubled its oil production in the last two years, to more than 1 million barrels a day. A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons.

But due to the lack of pipeline capacity, about 70 percent of the state’s daily oil production is being shipped by rail.

Oil trains carrying North Dakota crude have been involved in several major accidents during the last 18 months, including an explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, that killed 47 people. Other trains carrying North Dakota crude have since derailed and caught fire in Alabama, Virginia and North Dakota.

The pipeline – with an expected capacity equal to about four oil trains daily – is the biggest project yet to come before state regulators to move oil from the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations in western North Dakota. State regulators approved the construction of North Dakota’s portion of the pipeline in June.

Last week, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple asking for additional safety measures for oil trains leaving North Dakota.

Moscow bans Pride parade honoring drag queen — Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst

Moscow authorities have turned down gay activists’ application to hold a parade honoring drag queen Conchita Wurst, winner of this year’s Eurovision song contest.

Wurst’s appearance in the continental cavalcade of cheesy pop and garish costumes sparked controversy in Russia, where some called for state television to edit out Wurst from the finals’ live broadcast.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia in 1990s, animosity toward gays remains strong in Russia. The county last year passed a law banning the dissemination to minors of so-called “gay propaganda” and routinely rejects applications to hold gay rights demonstrations.

Alexei Maiorov, head of Moscow’s security department, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the Wurst parade was rejected because of concerns it would provoke clashes between gays and their opponents.

Mississippi town officials sued for denying a permit for gay bar

A woman is suing the leaders of a north Mississippi town, accusing them of conspiring to prevent her from opening a gay bar by denying an application for a business license.

Pat “PJ” Newton filed the federal lawsuit on Oct. 1 against the mayor and several aldermen of Shannon, a town of about 1,700 in Lee County where Newton has been trying to open a cafe and bar called O’Hara’s to cater to the gay community.

The 55-year-old Newton, who is a lesbian, is seeking monetary damages and an order to allow her to open the business as well as attorneys’ fees and court costs.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is representing the Memphis, Tenn., woman in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Aberdeen, Miss.

It says Shannon Mayor Ronnie Hallmark “led a conspiracy to deny Newton a business license” and solicited community opposition to the bar.

The mayor and aldermen did not immediately respond to a phone message left Tuesday at Shannon Town Hall. The lawsuit names six current or former members of the board of aldermen.

The lawsuit says Newton got a state business license and liquor permit and made expensive upgrades to the bar, but was denied a license under the city’s zoning ordinance.

The application was denied in a 4-1 vote on June 4 with the stated reason being that the bar would present a public health and safety hazard, Southern Poverty Law Center lawyer David Dinielli said Tuesday in a phone interview.

“We believe that is an illegitimate reason and pretext for the real reason,” Dinielli said. Dinielli believes the town leaders simply don’t want a gay bar.

Newton said in a phone interview that she first opened a gay bar called O’Hara’s in the same location in Shannon in 1994 and operated it without problems until 1998, when she sold it to take on new business ventures.

The new owners continued to run a gay bar there called “Rumors” until 2010, according to the lawsuit. Rumors was profiled in a 2006 documentary called “Small Town Gay Bar” about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the rural South.

The parcel of land is zoned as a general commercial district and requires establishments like churches, dog kennels and bars to get a “special exception,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit says the mayor told Newton that she had to appear before the aldermen on June 4 to present her plans, which she believed was a technicality to approval. Newton said she was met by a crowd of 30-40 people, including some who presented petitions opposing the bar.

Dinielli said the mayor encouraged at least one person to get signatures for the petitions.

“For over 30 minutes, Aldermen and citizens launched a series of hostile questions and comments directed at Newton,” the lawsuit said. The application was denied.

Bryant Thompson, the lone alderman who had voted to approve the license, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit because he “declined to move or vote to reconsider the denial” of the application.

Newton said she’s struggling “a little bit” to pay the rent and utilities but she hopes the lawsuit will be successful and she can recoup her losses when the bar opens.

“Of course, I’m in it as long as it takes. I’m not going anywhere,” she told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

On the Web…



Walker’s disapproval rating at 49 percent

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s approval rating is about the same as it was seven months ago – 48 percent, according to a survey of Wisconsin voters by Public Policy Polling. His disapproval rating is at 49 percent.

The conservative Republican eads by 4-7 points in potential Democratic challengers when voters are asked about the 2014 gubernatorial race.

More than 60 percent of those polled said they weren’t sure about potential Democratic opponents Kathleen Vinehunt, Mary Burke, Peter Barca or Tom Nelson.

Looking at voting ages, Walker’s approval rating is lowest with those 18-29. And about 65 percent of the voters in that age range  would cast a ballot for the Democrat in 2014.

The PPP survey also found that only 20 percent of Wisconsinites support the challenged law rolling back reproductive freedoms and access to abortion in the state. 

Also, 45 percent of voters say the Solidarity Singers who have staged daily demonstrations at the state Capitol should not be required to get a permit, as the Walker administration has mandated.

About 41 percent of voters think otherwise. 

The survey found that 72 percent of Republicans think permits should be required and 17 percent of Democrats.

The poll, conducted Sept. 13-16 and with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9, found the president’s approval rating dropping from 50 percent in February to 47 percent in September.

PPP conducted the poll in automated telephone interviews. It noted on a news release that the poll was not paid for by any campaign or political party.

Plan for Wausau Pride parade draws critics, raises questions from community

March for Equality scheduled for June 22

A pink flyer is circulating in Wausau promoting the “first-ever” gay Pride parade in the Wisconsin city.

The parade has generated harsh criticism from the Christian right and an elected official, but also enough questions from the local LGBT community about the event and the identity of the organizer that a second march has been scheduled.

At a recent meeting, Wausau Ald. David Nutting encouraged people to turn their backs on the parade, according to the progressive blog bluecheddar.net.

Nutting, during the public comment portion of a city meeting on June 12, said, “I represent an overwhelming majority of District 3 residents who oppose allowing a parade of deviant-behaving individuals to be escorted by public law enforcement members through the very heart of our family-oriented city to a beautiful family-oriented public park where no doubt their choice of indecent behavior will be on full display for influential children and the media to proclaim it worldwide.”

He continued, “This isn’t speech. This is behavior. I ask that all residents stay away from the parade or if you do go, stand with your back to the parade of deviant-behaving individuals.”

Also in the critics’ corner is the Wisconsin Family Action, the ultra-right organization that is challenging the state’s domestic partnership law in court. WFA has urged its members to contact the mayor and city council members to object to the scheduled downtown parade.

“Our experience with homosexual parades is that they’re nothing more than a display of immorality and propaganda,” stated WFA president Julaine Appling. The statement did not detail her “experience.”

She added, “This Wausau group is specifically targeting teens, which sends exactly the wrong message to our young people. The citizens of Wausau need to let their elected officials know their opinion about this parade.”

The WFA stated, in an action alert, that “a California man (who owns property in Wausau) is putting $15,000 of his own money into a so-called ‘gay pride’ parade.”

To others, it’s unclear who is organizing the Pride parade.

The WFA based its information on a May 9 report in the Wausau Daily Herald that identified Daxx Bouvier as the parade organizer. The story said Bouvier lives in Calabasas, Calif., and spends several weeks in Wausau, where he owns property. The Herald quoted Bouvier as saying, “It’s long overdue. There are a lot more people in the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Wausau than people realize.”

Bouvier told the Herald he has invited openly lesbian U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., to the parade and the newspaper reported that members of a gay-straight alliance club planned to march.

The city approved a permit for the parade earlier this spring, but more recent attention to the march raised questions about the organizer. City officials have said that Bouvier was not the individual who dropped off the paperwork for the permit and that a fee is still owed and proof of insurance must be provided.

WiG, as of June 14, had been unable to locate Daxx Bouvier.

A blog profile for a “Daxx Bouvier” stated, “Daxx Bouvier resides in Beverly Hills, CA and Granite Peak, WI born in June(year unknown) adopted at the young age of 4, world traveller and philanthropist, best known for his lavish parties and support of animal rights with a net worth estimated at $60 million dollars working on his memoirs and creating his own fragrance as well. No occupation history.”

Bouvier’s parade, in addition to the flyers, is advertised on Craigslist. The notice on the online site referred to Daxx Bouvier Productions as the promoter, announced a festival at the end of the parade and provided the names and contact information for two men.

But those men say they have nothing to do with a parade. One of the men, in a phone interview with WiG, said Bouvier listed him as a contact to “mess with my relationship with my fiancé.” He also said Bouvier’s claims of wealth are outrageous.

Meanwhile, to guarantee a celebration, local activist Shannon Thomas of One Girl Creative is organizing a March for Equality, set for the same time and the same location as Bouvier’s Pride parade.

Thomas said the march will take place at 3 p.m. on June 22 at Marathon Park and proceed to the 400 block park in downtown Wausau. She said there had been concern in the community that Bouvier’s Pride parade might be a hoax but she was really motivated to action after statements from Nutting, who has said that city police shouldn’t provide any protection for LGBT paraders.

Thomas began organizing the march but, because of the date, she cannot secure a city permit. So the walkers will take the sidewalk path from park to park, rather than marching in the street.

By about noon June 14, more than 100 people had committed to attending the March for Equality on a Facebook events page. And the march could help launch a larger event in 2014.

Thomas also is organizing a smaller party, Heart of Wisconsin Pride, in Wausau in August.

On the Web…

The March for Equality.


Jackson, Miss., denies permit for gay rights march

  Gay Mississippians tried to rally in Jackson early March 1 to draw attention to equal rights legislation, but were turned away by the police. Despite having applied for a permit for a march in the city to highlight LGBT discrimination, organizers were informed shortly before the event that their permit had been denied and they had no right to rally in the city.

The primary organizer of the march, Bob Gilchrist, had organized the event on Facebook, and was expecting a large crowd. The permit was denied even though event organizers were finalizing details to secure required liability insurance.

When informed by police that the permit had been denied, those assembled for the march changed plans under the threat of arrest if they were to proceed.

“Mississippi is notorious for basic human rights violations,” Gilchrist said. “It’s a shame that, in 2012, the state is still maintaining that reputation.”

Zach Magee, a Mississippi native who helped with the organizing, said, “I can’t believe the state is still maintaining a campaign of fear and intimidation to oppress state residents. Mississippians organized this march and Mississippians were going to attend this march – if the police can’t maintain safety while also permitting gay Mississippians’ freedom of speech, then I don’t know why they’re in the business of law enforcement.”

“As a Mississippian forced to flee my home state to seek equality elsewhere, this decision by the Jackson police is reprehensible,” said Robin McGehee, GetEQUAL’s executive director and a Jackson native. “Despite Mississippi’s long history of racial, gender and economic discrimination, the state continues to use deceptive tactics like insurance requirements to prevent people from simply walking down the street as openly gay. You would think that Mississippi would have learned its lesson and would try to shake off the chains of its discriminatory past, but this action by Jackson police will simply cement the state’s reputation as the leader of bigotry and discrimination.”

Event organizers partnered with an existing rally at the Capitol on March 1. Six people did march to the Capitol, including a representative with the ACLU, who said the “streets of Jackson belong to the residents of Jackson,” according to a report on The Clarion-Ledger website.

A spokesman for the police said the department tried to work with the protesters.