FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Memos Reveal Army Corps Knows Dakota Access Pipeline Violates Legal Requirement

On March 3, MinnPost reported that four memos were pulled from the Department of the Interior website on the Army Corps of Engineers after Donald Trump took office, citing their removal signifies, “an attempt to make opaque some serious shortcomings in the Corps’ performance on DAPL that are little known and less understood.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline, enabled by Barack Obama signing a bill in 2015 to lift a ban on U.S. Oil exports creating the demand for domestic pipelines to be built for oil export, emerged as a movement for indigenous rights and environmentalism, as camps close to where the pipeline is being constructed under Lake Oahe in North Dakota swelled with water protectors trying to halt its construction in 2016. Pipeline security and local police forces made controversial headlines throughout late 2016 with their use of militaristic tactics against the water protectors, including the use of overt propaganda, water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures, attack dogs, and inflicting severe injuries against water protectors.

On December 4, 2016, the Army Corps of Engineers announced the pipeline’s construction would be halted pending an environmental impact assessment, hailed as a short-term victory for water protectors. But after Trump assumed office, the pipeline’s construction quickly continued to move forward, leaving the Standing Rock Sioux forced to pursue a legal battle for the Army Corps of Engineers to stand by that initial decision.

The memos recently removed from the Department of Interior website could provide the necessary evidence for a court to rule in favor of the Standing Rock Sioux. One of the memos authored by Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor of the Interior under the Obama Administration, found that the Army Corps of Engineers attempted to avoid the issue of the pipeline’s route under Lake Oahe encroaching on Standing Rock Sioux treaty land, accepted Energy Transfer Partners’ assertion based on unsubstantiated claims that the likelihood of pipeline leaks were low and the company’s review of possible spills has not been released for independent review. Tompkins also noted the Army Corps of Engineers falsely concluded the pipeline posed little risk to Standing Rock Sioux reservation drinking water based on assertions that the reservation’s residents use wells and other surface water, but in fact the majority of the reservation’s residents depend on Lake Oahe as a direct water source.

Despite Tompkins’ assessment, last amended on December 4, that the Army Corps of Engineers did not abide by legal requirements in previous decisions to move the Dakota Access Pipeline ahead, the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Jo-Ellen Darcy, has refused to acknowledge the Corps’ errors. Darcy announced the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision on December 4, 2016 to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline’s construction pending an environmental impact assessment, but that decision has been subsequently rescinded under the Trump Administration, with an article detailing that December 4 announcement removed from the Army’s website.

Tompkins’ memos do however corroborate the criticisms from the Standing Rock Sioux against Dakota Access Pipeline, and could potentially force the Trump Administration to stand by the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision from December 2016.

“The Corps ultimately rejected the Bismarck route due in large part to its proximity to a central municipality and to ‘multiple conservation easements, habitat management areas, National Wildlife Refuges, state trust lands, waterfowl production areas, and private tribal lands.’ The Corps also noted that the Bismarck route crossed or was in close proximity to ‘several wellhead source water protection areas,’ and thus determined that the agency should avoid that route so as ”to protect areas that contribute water to municipal water supply wells,'” Tompkins noted, affirming that the Dakota Access Pipeline’s original route, near the North Dakota capital of Bismarck, was moved further south due to concerns that any spills would adversely impact local water supplies. Sunoco Logistics, the company that will operate the Dakota Access Pipeline, tops charts in the United States for most oil spills, with over 200 leaks since 2010.

The memos also affirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers made no efforts to consult with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe after the decision to move the original pipeline route. Tompkins added, “The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations are the permanent and irreplaceable homelands for the Tribes. Their core identity and livelihood depend upon their relationship to the land and environment – unlike a resident of Bismarck, who could simply relocate if the DAPL pipeline fouled the municipal water supply, Tribal members do not have the luxury of moving away from an environmental disaster without also leaving their ancestral territory. This underscores the far-reaching effects of a DAPL spill’s potential environmental impacts on the Tribes’ historic, cultural, social, and economic interests.”

More articles by:

Michael Sainato’s writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1

September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
The Aftershocks of the Economic Collapse Are Still Being Felt
Jesse Jackson
By Enforcing Climate Change Denial, Trump Puts Us All in Peril
George Wuerthner
Coyote Killing is Counter Productive
Mel Gurtov
On Dealing with China
Dean Baker
How to Reduce Corruption in Medicine: Remove the Money
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail