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Donald Trump's Executive Action on Standing Rock

Donald Trump signed an executive action to speed up the approval process for the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock, also reversing an Army Corps of Engineers decision to deny the extension of the pipeline to a section which provides drinking water to the region.

Trump’s federal disclosure forms revealed he owned stock in the constructor, Energy Transfers Partner, and ETP’s CEO contributed six figures to Trump election efforts. Trump’s pick to run the Energy Department, Rick Perry, sat on the board of ETP and company employees provided seven figures to his 2016 election efforts.

The construction of the pipeline would trample tribal sovereignty, putting the Standing Rock Sioux’s single water source at risk in favor of plans that would endanger the water supply of Bismarck, North Dakota. Adding insult to injury, the designated construction area is a sacred burial site, marking the massacre of hundreds of tribespeople by the U.S. Army. Energy Transfer Partners has already destroyed places of worship as a part of the construction process.

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Trump’s Dakota Access Pipeline Executive Action

Trump’s Executive Action Approved Pipeline Extension To Drinking Water Areas And Demanded Expedited Review And Approval

Trump’s Action Allowed Energy Transfer Partners’ To Extend The Pipeline Under A Section That Included A Reservoir Providing Drinking Water To The Region

Trump  Reversed An Army Corps Of Engineers Decision To Deny Energy Transfer Partners’ Request To Extend The Dakota Access Pipeline. According to the L.A. Times, “Trump also reversed an Army Corps of Engineers decision last month to deny Energy Transfer Partners’ request to extend the Dakota Access pipeline under a section of the Missouri River that included a reservoir providing drinking water to the region.” [L.A. Times, 1/24/17]

Trump’s Action Called For Expedited Review And Approval Of The Pipeline

The Action Directed The Army Corps Of Engineers To Expedite Review And Approval Of The Pipeline. According to Think Progress, “The second order directs the Army Corps of Engineers to ‘review and approve in an expedited manner’ requests ‘to contruct [sic] and operate’ the Dakota Access Pipeline. It was not immediately apparent how that would work with the Army Corps’ environmental impact statement process, which has already begun.” [Think Progress, 1/24/17]

Trump Ordered That The Environmental Assessment Issued In July Of 2016 Be Considered As Satisfying All Applicable Requirements Of The National Environmental Policy Act. According to a presidential memorandum signed by Donald Trump, “[C]onsider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, prior reviews and determinations, including the Environmental Assessment issued in July of 2016 for the DAPL, as satisfying all applicable requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq., and any other provision of law that requires executive agency consultation or review (including the consultation or review required under section 7(a) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, 16 U.S.C. 1536(a))[.]” [White House, 1/24/17]

Trump Ordered The Consideration Of Whether To Rescind Or Modify The December 2012 Memorandum By The Assistant Secretary Of The Army For Civil Works. According to a presidential memorandum signed by Donald Trump, “[C]onsider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, whether to rescind or modify the memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works dated December 4, 2016 (Proposed Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing at Lake Oahe, North Dakota), and whether to withdraw the Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in Connection with Dakota Access, LLC’s Request for an Easement to Cross Lake Oahe, North Dakota, dated January 18, 2017, and published at 82 Fed. Reg. 5543[.]” [White House, 1/24/17]

  • The Memorandum Granted A New Environmental-Impact Statement For Lake Oahe. According to The Atlantic, “In the second, he asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ‘review and approve in an expedited manner’ the Dakota Access pipeline. He also asked the Corps’s director to ‘consider, to the extent permitted by law and as warranted, whether to rescind or modify the memorandum’ from December that granted a new environmental-impact statement for Lake Oahe.” [The Atlantic, 1/25/17]

The Action Did Not Grant The Necessary Permit The Project Required For Final Approval. According to the New York Daily News, “While the actions are sure to face prompt legal challenges, they do not, however, grant the necessary permits that both projects require for a final approval. The Keystone requires a presidential permit that allows it build across the Canadian border, according to Bloomberg, while the Dakota Access pipeline requires an easement from the Army Corps of Engineers.” [Daily News, 1/24/17]

Conflict of Interest: Trump And Rick Perry Were Closely Linked With The Pipeline Owner

Trump Owned Stock In The Pipeline Company, Whose CEO Gave Six-Figures To His Election In Turn

Trump Owned Stock In The Pipeline Builder, Energy Transfer Partners, And Phillips 66, An Energy Company That Owned One-Quarter Of The Pipeline. According to the Associated Press, “President-elect Donald Trump supports completion of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline in the Midwest, based on policy and not the billionaire businessman’s investments in a partnership building the $3.8 billion pipeline, according to an aide’s memo. […] Trump’s most recent federal disclosure forms, filed in May, show he owned a small amount of stock in Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, and at least $100,000 in Phillips 66, an energy company that owns one-quarter of the pipeline.” [Associated Press, 12/2/16]

  • Trump Claimed To Have Sold His Stock But Was Not Required To Submit Another Financial Disclosure To The Office Of Government Ethics Until May 2018. According to CNN, “He sold ‘all’ of his holdings then, according to Jason Miller, the transition team’s spokesman. He had warned of a stock market bubble for months. ‘We’re in a bubble right now,’ Trump told The Hill in October 2015. We’re ‘in a big, fat, ugly bubble,’ Trump said again in the first presidential debate in September. It’s unclear why Trump sold when he did. He himself said he ‘got out’ of the market in an August interview with Fox Business. But since July 1, U.S. stocks are up 5%. Verifying that Trump really did sell all his stocks is difficult. His last financial disclosure came in May 2016 — a month before Miller says Trump exited all of his stocks. Legally, Trump isn’t required to submit another disclosure to the Office of Government Ethics until May 2018.” [CNN, 12/6/16]

Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren Donated $100,000 To A Committee Supporting Trump’s Election. According to the Huffington Post, “In May 2015, according to campaign disclosure reports, Trump owned between $500,000 and $1 million worth of shares of Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s lead developer, but had less than $50,000 invested when he sold off the remainder of his shares this summer, according to The Washington Post. As of last May, Trump had at least $100,000 invested in Phillips 66, which owns a quarter of the oil line, according to the AP. There was mutual support, as Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren had donated $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s election.” [Huffington Post, 12/2/16]

Energy Designee Rick Perry Sat On The Board Of Energy Transfer Partners, Which Also Donated Millions To Perry’s Presidential Campaign

Rick Perry Sat On The Board Of Energy Transfer Partners That “Has A Subsidiary Known As Dakota Access LLC, Which Is Attempting To Build The Dakota Access Pipeline.” According to CBS, “The former Texas governor sits on two corporate boards – one of them is Energy Transfer Partners – and that may present a confirmation issue. Energy Transfer Partners has a subsidiary known as Dakota Access LLC, which is attempting to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. That Dakota Access Pipeline has been the subject of public protests over its potential environmental impact and damage to Native American lands.” [CBS, 12/12/16]

Energy Transfer Partners Employees Donated A Total Of $1,518,500 To Perry’s Campaign And Outside Groups Supporting Him. According to CNBC, “For the 2016 election, Energy Transfer Partners employees donated a total of $1,518,500 to Perry’s campaign and outside groups supporting him, according to a list compiled by Open Secrets.” [CNBC, 12/13/16]

The Construction Of The Pipeline Threatened The Land Rights, Health And Religious Liberty Of The Standing Rock Sioux

The Action Disregarded Tribal Sovereignty

The Ownership Of The Land Designated For The Pipeline Was Disputed Based On The Fort Laramie Treaty. According to CNN, “Native American protesters on Monday occupied privately owned land in North Dakota in the path of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline, claiming they were the land’s rightful owners under an 1851 treaty with the U.S. government. The move is significant because the company building the 1,100-mile (1,886-km) oil pipeline, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, has bought tracts of land and relied on eminent domain to clear a route for the line across four states from North Dakota to Illinois. […] Protesters on Monday said the land in question was theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, which was signed by eight tribes and the U.S. government. Over the last century, tribes have challenged this treaty and others like it in court for not being honored or for taking their land.” [CNN, 11/24/16]

Michigan State University Associate Professor Kyle Powys Whyte: “In 1877, U.S. Congress, Without Tribal Consent, Passed An Act Removing The Black Hills From Standing Rock’s Jurisdiction, Curtailing Tribal Members’ Capacity To Honor The Sacred Places Of The Black Hills.” According to an opinion by Michigan State University associate professor of philosophy and community sustainability Kyle Powys Whyte in U.S. News, “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at the center of this current protest has already suffered from this practice. Until U.S. mining interests were at stake, it retained sovereignty over the sacred Black Hills and parts of the Missouri River and certain off reservation hunting rights in the Treaty of Ft. Laramie of 1868. But then in 1877, U.S. Congress, without tribal consent, passed an act removing the Black Hills from Standing Rock’s jurisdiction, curtailing tribal members’ capacity to honor the sacred places of the Black Hills.” [Kyle Powys Whyte – U.S. News, 9/19/16]

Morning Star Institute President Suzan Harjo Argued That Standing Rock Still Had Claims To The Lands In The 1851 Territories: “They Didn’t Give Up Their Ancestors’ Graves. They Didn’t Give Up Their Worship And Other Sacred Places.” According to the Bismarck Tribune, “The result was the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851 — a historic agreement that has found new resonance in the disagreement over the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline. ‘It really is an important thing,’ said Suzan Harjo, president of the Morning Star Institute and a longtime Native American historian and advocate. ‘These agreements — they all started out with peace and friendship.’ […] Harjo said she believes Standing Rock still has claims to the lands in the 1851 territories. The Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851 didn’t make the tribes change who they were, she said. ‘They didn’t give up their right to speak their language or exercise their religion. They didn’t give up their ancestors’ graves. They didn’t give up their worship and other sacred places. They didn’t give up their right to have a clear blue stream to jump in to conclude the Sun Dance,’ Harjo said.” [Bismarck Tribune, 11/10/16]

Indigenous Environmental Network Spokesperson: “If Dakota Access Pipeline Can Go Through And Claim Eminent Domain On Landowners And Native Peoples On Their Own Land, Then We As Sovereign Nations Can Then Declare Eminent Domain On Our Own Aboriginal Homeland.” According to CNN, “Protesters on Monday said the land in question was theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, which was signed by eight tribes and the U.S. government. Over the last century, tribes have challenged this treaty and others like it in court for not being honored or for taking their land. “We have never ceded this land. If Dakota Access Pipeline can go through and claim eminent domain on landowners and Native peoples on their own land, then we as sovereign nations can then declare eminent domain on our own aboriginal homeland,” Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network said in a prepared statement.” [CNN, 11/24/16]

The Pipeline Could Pollute The Standing Rock Sioux’s Single Source Of Water

The Pipeline Was Moved After Being Deemed A Threat To The Water Supply Of Bismarck

The Dakota Access Pipeline Was Proposed To Cross The Missouri River North Of Bismarck But That Route, A Potential Threat To Bismarck’s Water Supply, Was Rejected. According to the Bismarck Tribune, “An early proposal for the Dakota Access Pipeline called for the project to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, but one reason that route was rejected was its potential threat to Bismarck’s water supply, documents show. Now a growing number of protesters are objecting to the oil pipeline’s Missouri River crossing a half-mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which they argue could threaten the water supply for the tribe and other communities downstream.” [Bismarck Tribune, 8/18/16]

The U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers: The Bismarck Route Was Too Close To Wellhead Source Water Protection Areas That Are Avoided To Protect Municipal Water Supply Wells. According to the Bismarck Tribune, “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the Bismarck route and concluded it was not a viable option for many reasons. One reason mentioned in the agency’s environmental assessment is the proximity to wellhead source water protection areas that are avoided to protect municipal water supply wells.” [Bismarck Tribune, 8/18/16]

Hundreds Of Pipeline-Related Leaks Happen Every Year, Which Would Contaminate Bathing And Drinking Water

Potential Consequences Ranged From Severe Eczema To Cancer

If The Pipeline Were To Leak Or Burst, It Would Send Oil Deep Into The Missouri River, Which Was The Standing Rock Sioux’s Single Source Of Water, Relied Upon For Everything From Bathing To Drinking. According to Business Insider, “If the pipeline were to leak or burst, it would send oil deep into the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Sioux’s single source of water — water the group relies on for everything from bathing to drinking. For that reason, the Standing Rock Sioux say the Army Corps of Engineers could violate not just one but two laws: NEPA as well as the Clean Water Act. The 1972 Clean Water Act makes it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from single identifiable source — such as a pipe — into certain bodies of water without a permit.” [Business Insider, 11/1/16]

  • Water Protector Aries Yumul: If It Were To Get Contaminated, It Would Affect All Of The Tribal Nations. The Idea Of That… It Would Be A Death Sentence At This Point.” According to Business Insider, “But now, instead of risking Bismarck, the new route could threaten the Standing Rock Sioux. ‘Our aquifers and rivers are fed by this river,’ [self-identified water protector Aries] Yumul, the assistant principal [at North Dakota’s Todd County School District], said. ‘If it were to get contaminated, it would affect all of the tribal nations. The idea of that … it would be a death sentence at this point.’” [Business Insider, 11/1/16]

From 2013 To 2015, An Average Of 121 Accidents Involving Oil And Petroleum Pipelines Happened Every Year. According to Business Insider, “Since 1995, more than 2,000 significant accidents involving oil and petroleum pipelines have occurred, adding up to roughly $3 billion in property damage, according to data obtained by the Associated Press from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. From 2013 to 2015, an average of 121 accidents happened every year.” [Business Insider, 11/1/16]

Worcester Polytechnic Institute: Oil Spills Resulted In Increased Incidences Of Cancer And Digestive Problems As Well As Skin Problems Ranging From Mild Rashes To Severe And Lasting Eczema And Malignant Skin Cancers. According to Business Insider, “An in-depth 2010 report from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which looked at the effects of three major oil spills, found increased incidences of cancer and digestive problems in people who had ingested the oil directly (in drinking water) or indirectly (through eating the meat of livestock exposed to the oil). In addition, people who had used contaminated water for bathing or laundry appeared to experience a higher incidence of skin problems, ranging from mild rashes to severe and lasting eczema and malignant skin cancers.” [Business Insider, 11/1/16]

The Construction Would Infringe Upon Religious Liberty

Water Held A Sacred Significance To The Standing Rock Sioux

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Viewed Water As Sacred, Using It In Healing Ceremonies And Celebrating It As A Purifier And Spirit Cleanser Which Could Hold On To What It Heard And Share What It Learned. According to CNN, “It’s not just sacred land at stake now — it’s the water as well. The Missouri River and all the tributaries that flow into it, including the Cannonball River that runs by the camps, are sacred. Water is the ‘first medicine;’ it sustains us in our mother’s womb, Spotted Eagle says. It’s used in ceremonies to heal people. The steam it gives off in a sweat lodge, for example, purifies. Water can clean a spirit when it’s bleeding. It can calm a person and restore balance. Its power goes even deeper, though. Water, she says, also has memory. When people speak or sing to it during a ceremony, it is believed that the water holds on to what it hears and can later share what it learns.” [CNN, 11/24/16]

Construction Had Already Destroyed Ancient Burial Sites, Places Of Prayer And Other Significant Cultural Artifacts

Tribal Chairman David Archambault II: Energy Transfer Partners Destroyed Ancient Burial Sites, Places Of Prayer And Other Significant Cultural Artifacts Of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe In September 2016. According to a release by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via Indian Country Media Network, “Sacred places containing ancient burial sites, places of prayer and other significant cultural artifacts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were destroyed on Saturday September 3 by Energy Transfer Partners, Tribal Chairman David Archambault II said. On Friday, the Tribe filed court documents identifying the area as home to significant Native artifacts and sacred sites. ‘This demolition is devastating,’ Archambault said. ‘These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors. The ancient cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.’” [Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, 9/4/16]

  • Standing Rock Sioux Former Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Tim Mentz: “Portions, And Possibly Complete Sites, Have Been Taken Out Entirely.” According to a release by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe via Indian Country Media Network, “Construction crews removed topsoil across an area about 150 feet wide stretching for two miles, northwest of the confluence of the Cannon Ball and Missouri Rivers. ‘I surveyed this land, and we confirmed multiple graves and specific prayer sites,’ said Tim Mentz, the Standing Rock Sioux’s former tribal historic preservation officer. ‘Portions, and possibly complete sites, have been taken out entirely.’” [Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, 9/4/16]

The Pipeline Would Disturb A Burial Cite Honoring 300+ Tribespeople Massacred By The U.S. Army

The Proposed Pipeline Would Pass Through North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, A Burial Site Sacred To The Standing Rock Sioux. According to Business Insider, “They are there because the proposed pipeline would pass through North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a burial site sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and a major source of drinking water for the community. ‘The main reason it’s such a big deal here is that it’s going to affect our water supply,’ Aries Yumul, an assistant principal at North Dakota’s Todd County School District and a self-identified water protector with the Oceti Sakowin, the proper name for the people commonly known as the Sioux, told Business Insider.” [Business Insider, 11/1/16]

  • Ladonna Brave Bull Allard: “We Are Very Concerned Because Any Type Of Motion Can Bring Up Our Remains.” According to Democracy Now, “LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: Yes. Right where the Dakota Access pipeline is the area where our people made it across the river. It is our major river crossing there. And I will say that where this pipeline is going underneath the Missouri River is also a burial site, and so they’ll be going underneath this burial site. We are very concerned because any type of motion can bring up our remains.” [Democracy Now, 11/24/16]

The Burial Site Marked The Whitestone Massacre, When The U.S. Army Massacred More Than 300 Members Of The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. According to Democracy Now, “AMY GOODMAN: That day, September 3rd, we also sat down with Standing Rock Sioux tribal historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard to speak about another attack against her tribe, this one on the same day 153 years before. It was on September 3rd, 1863, that the U.S. Army massacred more than 300 members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in what’s become known as the Whitestone massacre. […] That river crossing that you’ve described, the people fleeing from the soldiers, that’s where the Dakota Access pipeline will be built? LADONNA BRAVE BULL ALLARD: Yes.” [Democracy Now, 11/24/16]

Tribal Leader Spotted Eagle Compared The Desecration Of Sacred Land To The Great Sioux Nation Building A Project Through Arlington Cemetery. According to CNN, “Spotted Eagle gives an example: What if the Great Sioux Nation decided to build a project through Arlington Cemetery? ‘The point would be taken that you don’t disturb people that have been put to rest,’ she says. That’s easy enough to get. But it turns out, leaving burial sites alone is about more than simple respect. Protection prayers — those that ensure the deceased will not be disturbed on their ‘walk to the spirit world’ — are recited over relatives who are buried. If spirits linger, like they might in the case of violent deaths, and are then interrupted, ‘They’re not going to be able to find their way. They’ll still roam on this land,’ Spotted Eagle says.” [CNN, 11/24/16]