'Major Victory': Landowner's Legal Challenge Halts Construction of Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana
By Jessica Corbett
In a "major victory" for local landowners and pipeline activists who are fighting to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana, the company behind the project agreed to halt construction on a patch of private property just ahead of a court hearing that was scheduled for Monday morning.
The path of the 163-mile pipeline runs through Atchafalaya Basin, the nation's largest wetland and swamp. Local landowners and activists have raised alarm about the threat the pipeline poses to regional water resources, wildlife, and communities.
Peter Aaslestad, one of several co-owners of undeveloped marshland, filed an injunction in July alleging that the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) was clearing trees and trenching on his property without permission. ETP—which is also behind the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline—claims it has the right to the use property through expropriation, a process used to take private land for public benefit.
Monday's agreement "essentially gives us everything we would have asked for with [the injunction] request and argued for in our hearing," Misha Mitchell, a lawyer for Aaslestad and Atchafalaya Basinkeeper, explained in a Facebook video. "The company has voluntarily agreed to cease entering onto the property and to stop all construction activities on the property."
A court hearing for the expropriation battle is scheduled for Nov. 27, meaning the company will not meet its initial deadline of completing construction by October.
"This represents a significant victory for the conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin and for the rights of private landowners who lawfully resist their property being seized for private gain," Aaslestad said in a statement.
A collective of activists fighting against the pipeline—who have created the L'eau Est La Vie (Water Is Life) floating resistance camp—celebrated the agreement as validation of their ongoing efforts to kill the project.
"We have been tased, pepper sprayed, put into choke holds, and beaten with batons to stop this illegal construction that ETP was carrying out despite not having an easement for the land," the group wrote on Facebook Monday. "While this is a major victory, construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline continues in other parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. We won't stop until completely shut down the Bayou Bridge Pipeline."
Protests have continued even as state lawmakers have enacted legislation that effectively criminalizes peaceful protests of "critical infrastructure," including pipeline projects. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, three kayaktivists who oppose Bayou Bridge were detained by private security, then arrested and charged with felonies under the new law.
The Times-Picayune reports that "at least 12 activists protesting the pipeline on Aaslestad's property have been arrested" under the law, which took effect Aug. 1, but the district attorney "has not yet decided whether to prosecute the protesters."
Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who is volunteering as an attorney for the protesters, said they were all detained by private security before being arrested, explaining that "because they were on private property at the invitation of the owner, it's not clear that [ETP] had any right to do what they were doing, or have people arrested."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Jessica Corbett
A leading environmental advocacy group marked Native American Heritage Month on Wednesday by urging President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Kamala Harris, and the entire incoming administration "to honor Indigenous sovereignty and immediately halt the Keystone XL, Dakota Access, and Line 3 pipelines."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
By Jake Johnson
Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.
Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.
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