North Dakota Governor: DAPL Likely to Get Easement Once Trump Is President
Even though the U.S. Army Corp and the Obama Administration denied a key easement needed to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) last month, the struggle against the controversial pipeline is far from over.
Daryl Hannah and Neil Young: The Standing Rock Protests Are a Symbolic Moment via @EcoWatch https://t.co/AkdsRE345D #NoDAPL— ⇦ Left on Main St. (@⇦ Left on Main St.)1480548744.0
North Dakota's new Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has reaffirmed his favor of the project, telling Reuters that he is confident that the pipeline will be approved by Donald Trump when he comes into the White House.
"I expect the world's going to change dramatically on that day relative to finding resolution on this issue," Burgum said. "I would expect that (Energy Transfer Partners, DAPL's parent company) will get its easement and it will go through."
The president-elect formally announced his support for the completion of the DAPL last month. His transition team noted that his support for the pipeline "had nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans."
Burgum has requested that the demonstrators clean up the protest camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation before spring floods from rain and melting snow create a "potential ecological disaster."
According to Reuters, more than 300 vehicles, along with dozens of temporary dwellings and other detritus, have been abandoned at the encampment, with at least one campsite sitting on a flood plain.
Water Protectors camping near the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site.Dark Sevier/Flickr
"The amount of cleanup that needs to take place is enormous," Burgum said. "We've got a potential ecological disaster if this land floods and all the debris flows downstream into tribal lands."
About 700 to 1,000 pipeline protesters remain at the Oceti Sakowin camp even though Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II's has requested them to leave due to the harsh winter conditions. The chairman said the pipeline fight will continue in court.
Burgum, a former tech executive who won the governors race with nearly 77 percent of the vote, took office last month as tensions mounted between DAPL protesters and law enforcement officials surrounding the $3.8 billion oil project. In November, police used items such as tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in freezing temperatures.
The protests have been ongoing since last spring. The Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters say the 1,100-mile pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River and sacred sites, threatens their access to clean water and violates Native American treaty rights.
Proponents of the DAPL, which is expected to transport 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day, say the pipeline is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the fuel.
The Army Corps announced on Dec. 4 that it will not provide the necessary easement and recommended an environmental impact statement (EIS) considering the Tribe's treaty rights and route alternatives to the Lake Oahe crossing.
But in a video message released just 24 hours after taking office, Burgum criticized the Obama Administration for "politically [stalling] a legally permitted project that had already been through an exhaustive review process and has twice been upheld by the federal courts.
"I support the legal completion of this pipeline. Make no mistake, this infrastructure is good for our economy. And it's the safest way to transport North Dakota products. Failure to finish it would send a chilling signal to those in any industry who wish invest in our state and play by the rules."
Dakota Access is adamant about completing the pipeline. The company has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps claiming it had all the permits and permissions it required in order to complete a critical crossing at Lake Oahe.
In response, both the Army Corps and the Standing Rock Sioux filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Friday asking the judge to throw out the company's lawsuit.
The Army Corps states in its brief to the court that the company's claim should be dismissed, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
"There is no signed document conveying to Dakota Access an easement to construct a pipeline under Corps-managed land. The army is still considering (the) easement application," the Army Corps told Federal Judge James Boasberg.
The tribe's attorney, Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, said that Dakota Access created its own mess.
"Its own choices—including building a significant portion of the pipeline before it had any permits and refusing to voluntarily cease construction in the disputed area around Lake Oahe, as the government repeatedly requested—are responsible for its current predicament," Hasselman said.
A press release from the Standing Rock Sioux also states that the Army Corps has not, and could not have, issued the easement yet. It further adds that the Army Corps' decision to provide a full EIS on route alternatives for the pipeline was legally required and appropriate "in light of the history of the Sioux."
"DAPL's lawsuit is a desperate attempt to bully the government into getting the easement and violating Standing Rock's rights," Archambault said. "It will not succeed. We look forward to working with the Corps on an EIS that fully takes into account our history and our rights, and are confident that the easement at Lake Oahe will ultimately be denied."
Typhoon Molave is expected to make landfall in Vietnam on Wednesday with 90 mph winds and heavy rainfall that could lead to flooding and landslides, according to the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. To prepare for the powerful storm that already tore through the Philippines, Vietnam is making plans to evacuate nearly 1.3 million people along the central coast, as Reuters reported.
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A stretch of coastline in the Philippine capital, Manila has received backlash from environmentalists. The heavily polluted Manila Bay area, which had been slated for cleanup, has become the site of a controversial 500-meter (1,600-foot) stretch of white sand beach.
Sand Makeup Crucial for Ecosystems<p>While UNEP/GRID-Geneva generally supports finding <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/not-enough-sand-for-construction-industry-despite-abundance/a-49342942" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">alternative sources of sand</a> so as not to disrupt ecosystems in rivers and oceans when extracting them, Vander Velpen stressed it was vital to use sand which closely matches the makeup of the native sand to protect beach fauna.</p><p>"If you change the core characteristics of the native sand, the original sand, you need to do an environmental impact assessment (EIA) to find out how it's going to impact the ecosystem and nearby ecosystems," he told DW.</p><p>But according to Torres, such an assessment was not done in Manila.</p>
Beautification Stunt Instead of Proper Cleanup?<p>Manila Bay's waters are heavily polluted by oil and trash from nearby residential areas and ports. A huge "No swimming" sign warns visitors to stay away from the ocean.</p><p>Philippines' <a href="https://denr.gov.ph/index.php/priority-programs/manila-bay-clean-up/25-priority-programs/1825-frequently-ask-questions-faqs-on-the-dolomite-and-the-beach-nourishment-project" target="_blank">Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)</a> has denied dolomite sand poses any risk to human health and the ecosystem.</p><p>However, scientists of the University of the Philippines have come forward disputing the DENR's claims. A <a href="https://biology.science.upd.edu.ph/index.php/ib-statement-regarding-dolomite-in-manila-bay/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">statement by the Institute of Biology</a> said that using crushed dolomite did not address any of the rehabilitation phases and instead was "even more detrimental to the existing biodiversity as well as the communities in the area," pointing to the case of water birds. "The dumping of dolomite in Manila Bay has effectively covered part of the intertidal area used by the birds thereby reducing their habitat."</p><p>At peak migration season, Manila Bay is home to 90 aquatic bird species, including species of international conservation concern that are facing a very high extinction risk in the wild. </p><p>Authorities should focus on protecting and conserving biodiversity, the Institute of Biology added. "Rehabilitating mangroves is an example of a nature-based solution that is cheaper and more cost-effective than the dolomite dumping project," the scientists said.</p><p>Moreover, <a href="http://www.msi.upd.edu.ph/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Marine Science Institute</a> has warned that prolonged inhalation of finer dust particles of dolomite could "cause chronic health effects," leading to discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing.</p><p>They also warned dolomite sand grains would erode during storms and be carried out to sea, essentially being washed away.</p>
Rehabilitation vs. Reclamation<p>Environmentalists say covering up the beach doesn't address the real issues of the bay. Torres and others believe the best way to clean up Manila Bay is not to add anything, but rather remove trash and pollution.</p><p>"There have been studies saying much of the waste comes from already collected waste — so these are open dump sites along the coast that get washed up because of the rain," Torres said.</p><p>She criticized the authorities for continuing to push reclamation projects she says are at odds with each other. These projects will affect large areas of mangrove forests, she said, and experts warn that this, in turn, exacerbates coastal erosion.</p><p>"If you've removed the areas that helped trap the sand, like mangrove forests, then the likelihood increases that you will have to nourish a beach. Same as building right up to the waterfront," said Vander Velpen of UNEP/GRID-Geneva.</p>
Plenty of Sand in the Sea?<p>The question of Manila's contentious white beach echoes larger questions about sand mining worldwide. <a href="https://unepgrid.ch/storage/app/media/documents/Sand_and_sustainability_UNEP_2019.pdf" target="_blank">Global sand consumption has tripled</a> over the past two decades, UNEP/GRID-Geneva has found. A huge chunk of it is now taken up by construction.</p><p>"Many operate on the assumption that natural sand is endless in its supply," said Vander Velpen.</p><p>Sand scarcity is a concern shared by Stefan Schimmels of <a href="https://www.fzk.uni-hannover.de/fzk_start.html?&L=1" target="_blank">Forschungszentrum Küste</a> who's done extensive research on shore nourishment to stop coastal erosion. And as climate change and rising sea levels are threatening coasts, demand for sand will grow even more.</p><p>A large study, the <a href="http://www.stencil-project.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/STENCIL_SWOT_Analyse_191026.pdf" target="_blank">Strategies and Tools for Environment-Friendly Shore Nourishments as Climate Change Impact Low-Regret Measures (STENCIL project)</a>, focused on the German island of Sylt, a popular vacation spot.</p><p>About 1 million cubic meter of sand per year is used to maintain the coastal area of Sylt, STENCIL project head Schimmels said. That's about 100 million 10-liter buckets of sand.</p><p>When sand was extracted off the coast of Sylt, underwater craters were formed. "You can still detect these craters even decades later," Schimmels told DW.</p><p>"Also when you add a couple of meters sand onto the beach — you essentially bury all things that do creep and fly," he said. "How quickly will they recover?" Schimmels said more research was needed as there was still too little known about long-term effects on the environment. </p>
Criticism Piling Up<p>As for Manila's artificial white sand, it looks like some might have already been blown away by a recent storm. DENR claims it wasn't washed away, but said that grayish sand, stones and other material had simply piled up over the dolomite sand. People in Manila have tweeted photos showing how the storm has ravaged the beach. </p>
<div id="adc0b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="98f9390db6bb81cb421aaf0bb9d9a6fb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318816633280851969" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Exactly one month after giving excited netizen a glimpse of Manila Bay white sands, look what happened now after ju… https://t.co/X0Z9i0bPB0</div> — M*A*S*H (@M*A*S*H)<a href="https://twitter.com/Magtira_Matibay/statuses/1318816633280851969">1603265362.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Authorities have been called tone-deaf for spending around 389 million pesos ($8 million) on a beach nourishment project in the middle of a raging pandemic.</p><p>An image of cake iced with the words "It really hurts - that's [worth] 389 million pesos?" has since gone viral.</p>
<div class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4387aad52ea316e4db7330052318ca2f"><div class="fb-post" data-href="https://www.facebook.com/theweekendpatisserie/posts/144564207350008"></div></div><p>"It's just a waste of precious resources," Torres said. </p><p>The environmental activist now also worries that she might be labeled a terrorist for speaking out under the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/philippine-anti-terrorism-law-triggers-fear-of-massive-rights-abuses/a-53732140" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines' controversial new anti-terrorism law</a>. She says she could be arrested for inciting fear when talking about environmental dangers.</p>
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