We got big problems, kids (what else is new). Pence is attempting to side-step the regulatory scheme and fast-track the granting of the easement for DAPL. As of January 31, 2017, at Pence’s urging, the Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer reportedly directed the Army Corps of Engineers to issue the easement needed to complete the Dakota Access pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux issued a one-sentence statement: “The Army Corps lacks statutory authority to simply stop the EIS and issue the easement.” It’s true, they do lack such authority, but it doesn’t mean they won’t plow right ahead and deal with legal fallout after the fact. For proof of this, see this article in which a stakeholder stated that work on DAPL would start in the second quarter of the year. We’ve got some serious cowboy v. indian nonsense happening (pun intended) and, all jokes aside, we need to keep the pressure on.
On January 18, the federal government website and phone line designed to take public comments for the Environmental Impact Statement process. The site (and phone lines) went down on or around the time Trump signed an order to speed up construction of the pipeline and restart Keystone XL (form your own conclusions).
Nonetheless, the comment period is still open through February 20 – meaning submitting feedback just got more complicated. Now the public is being directed to mail, hand deliver, or email comments. The email address for comments is firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing.” To mail a comment, address mail to Mr. Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108.
An example comment you might make? Jake Tracy gives a great one:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Dakota Access pipeline crossing. I have grave concerns that the scope ignores key impacts that the Army Corps’ approval would cause, and that the “no-action” alternative, as proposed in the environmental assessment, does not constitute a realistic alternative.
The EA’s no-action alternative assumes that, if the pipeline is not built, the oil will be transported by truck or rail instead. This argument is flawed, however. The EA itself points out on page 5 that truck transportation is not realistic, and goes on to state that rail transportation would require massive infrastructure investments, far larger than any currently existing in the United States. For these reasons, the no-action alternative should assume that the oil is not extracted, as there will be no realistic way to transport it to the intended markets.
Additionally, the Council on Environmental Quality has directed federal agencies to evaluate projects’ direct and indirect, long- and short-term, and broad-scale greenhouse gas and climate change impacts through the EIS process. Approving this crossing would complete the project, allowing a flow of oil that, when all is accounted for, would have the same annual CO2 emissions as 29 coal-fired power plants. These emissions would have a significant impact on air quality, water quality, human health, and wildlife, and would not occur if this pipeline crossing was denied. Please evaluate these impacts as part of your review, in accordance with the guidance provided by CEQ.
Finally, I support your decision to include a thorough analysis of the effects of an oil spill on Lake Oahe and the people of Standing Rock. Even the strictest precautions today will wear with age, as we have seen with other projects where poor maintenance led to disastrous results. The impacts of a spill on the local population and environment cannot be discounted—a spill 30 years from now would be just as impactful as a spill on day one, and should be treated as a near-certainty in the requestor’s preferred alternative.
Thank you again, and I look forward to your inclusion of the project’s full impacts, as well as a no-action alternative that takes into account the infeasibility of other forms of oil transportation.”
But the whole article is rife with the little details you need to know in order to leave the strongest comment possible: potential for oil spills into Lake Oahe and the Missouri River; the fact that without an overwhelming public push during the scoping notice, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change impacts will not be studied in the EIS; the need to focus on expanding the scope of the EIS to cover the effect of the global greenhouse gas emissions that will result from the oil that will run through the pipeline; and more. Read it and that way you can submit comments beyond something along the lines of “STOP DESTROYING THE PLANET, YA GREEDY, SELF-CENTERED, IGNORAMUSES (ignorami?),” although feel free to write that, too.
Trump/Pence are having a propaganda temper tantrum and it’s up to us shut it down.