BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A judge on Friday delayed a decision on whether the Dakota Access Oil pipeline should be shut down while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducts an environmental review on the project, after lawyers for the pipeline asked for more time to outline the effects of recent changes in the economy.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg granted the 10-day continuance after the Biden administration declined to intervene in the case, which an attorney for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation said is “deeply'' disappointing to the tribes.
“The decision here today is to keep operating, which is the same decision as the previous administration,'' Earthjustice attorney Jan Hasselman said during the hearing. “The company gets to keep the benefits of operating the pipeline that was never properly authorized while the community has to bear the risks and the consequences.''
Boasberg ordered the hearing mainly for the Corps to explain how it could proceed without a federal permit granting easement for the $3.8 billion pipeline to cross beneath Lake Oahe, a reservoir along the Missouri River that is maintained by the Corps. Corps attorney Ben Schifman told the judge that the agency might act on the permit issue at some time, which Boasberg described as a possibility of “sooner, later or not at all.''
The hearing in Washington, D.C., was originally scheduled for February. But the Corps filed a motion to postpone the hearing in order to allow officials from Biden's administration more time to familiarize themselves with the case, including the 2016 lawsuit filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in an attempt to stop construction.
“I too am a little surprised that this is where things stand 60 days later,'' Boasberg said. “I would have thought there would be a decision one way or another at this point.''
Hasselman said he expected the Corps to make a decision Friday and objected to the delay.
“We strongly disagree with the idea that you need another round of declarations and expert reports,” he said. “We agreed to 60-day extension as courtesy and don't think it should be used against us. Let's not go through another round of competing expert reports. You've seen them many times.''
Hasselman told reporters that the hearing Friday was a chance for the Biden administration to prove its commitment to improving tribal relations and the environment.
“Today was the day to see whether this rhetoric was going to be matched with action and they fell short,'' Hasselman said.
Pipeline attorney David Debold said “a lot has happened with our economy and overall markets'' in the last five months and the continuance is warranted.
Boasberg in April 2020 ordered further environmental study after determining the Corps had not adequately considered how an oil spill under the Missouri River might affect Standing Rock's fishing and hunting rights, or whether it might disproportionately affect the tribal community.
Texas-based Energy Transfer estimated it would cost $24 million to empty the oil and take steps to preserve the pipe. It said it would have to spend another $67.5 million each year to maintain the line while it's inoperable. The company did not immediately return messages for comment left Friday.
The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) pipeline crosses beneath the Missouri River, just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border. The tribe, which draws its water from the river, says it fears pollution.
The pipeline was the subject of months of sometimes-violent protests in 2016 and 2017 during its construction. The tribe took legal action against the pipeline even after it began carrying oil from North Dakota across South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois in June 2017.
Former President Barack Obama's administration originally rejected permits for the project, and the Corps prepared to conduct a full environmental review. In February 2017, after Donald Trump took office, the agency scrapped the review and granted permits, concluding that running the pipeline under the Missouri River posed no significant environmental issues.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — LaDonna Allard, a woman considered a matriarch in the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline, has died at age 64.
An online obituary says Allard died April 10 in Fort Yates where she lived.
Allard founded the first Dakota Access pipeline protest camp in March 2016. It grew in size over the next few months and inspired others to set up camps where the Cannonball and Missouri rivers meet.
Thousands of people from around the world soon arrived to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its fight against the pipeline.
Allard stepped up against the pipeline because one of her sons is buried on a hill near the route of the line, which crosses under the Missouri River just upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
In the days since her death, numerous friends and supporters have honored her on social media.
“A true matriarch has passed — bless you Ladonna Brave Bull Allard,'' the Lakota People's Law Project said on Facebook. “You will be remembered for all you have done to serve humanity: Sacred Stone, your mentoring of the young, your strength and vision. Prayers up...#NoDAPL forever.''
Allard's Sacred Stone Camp was modeled after a similar camp on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Law enforcement made hundreds of arrests at demonstrations in the camps along the Standing Rock border in 2016 and 2017.
BOSTON (AP) — Native Americans in Massachusetts are calling on the organizers of the Boston Marathon to move the already rescheduled date for the storied race because it now conflicts with a day meant to commemorate the contributions of Indigenous people.
The Boston Athletic Association announced in January that the 125th edition of the marathon would be pushed back from its traditional April running to Oct. 11, assuming road races are allowed to take place under Massachusetts' COVID-19 restrictions by then.
But the Indigenous Peoples Day Newton Committee complained the new day undercuts a day reserved for recognizing the contributions of Native Americans, past and present. The group said its first planned celebration of the Oct. 11 holiday in the Boston suburb of Newton has to be canceled because of the marathon's new date.
“Unfortunately, the Boston Athletic Association has decided that Indigenous Peoples Day is a ‘side' holiday that can be usurped,” the committee said in a recently launched online petition. “By doing this, they are perpetuating the myth that Indigenous peoples are part of the past and irrelevant.''
The BAA didn't directly address the complaints, but said the new date was selected in close coordination with the eight cities and towns along the marathon route. Those communities include Newton as well as Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline and Boston.
“We will continue working with city and town officials, as well as with organizations planning events during the October 9-11 weekend,'' the organization said in a statement.
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller said the city, which has the longest stretch of the marathon course, can handle both events. She said the city is offering to host an Indigenous Peoples Day celebration on a field at Newton South High School.
“While the pandemic has made so many things more complicated, we are excited to celebrate both Indigenous Peoples Day and the Boston Marathon in Newton on October 11, 2021,'' Fuller said in a statement.
But City Councilor Emily Norton said she's disappointed at the chosen date. ``It was insensitive at best and disrespectful at worst,'' she said.
Indigenous Peoples Day is observed instead of Columbus Day in a number of states and dozens of U.S. cities. It's usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal holiday.
The Newton group said marathon organizers should reschedule the race to give Indigenous communities the space they deserve.
“Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for everyone to learn more about the history of America as it relates to Indigenous Peoples — because we are all on Indigenous Land,`` the organization said in its petition. “The BAA has the chance to acknowledge the importance of keeping the spotlight on Indigenous Peoples Day rather than steal the spotlight for the Marathon.''
The BAA has said this year's race will have space for 20,000 entrants _ a smaller field than prior years to allow for social distancing. There will also be a virtual race from Oct. 8-10 that will allow up to 70,000 more entrants.
First run in 1897, the Boston Marathon was canceled last year for the first time in its history. Instead, almost 16,000 people ran in a virtual race, completing the 26.2-mile distance on their own over a 10-day period.