Why delisting of grizzly bears is premature | The Extinction Chronicles

GR: As the world’s wildlife species fade out of existence, government agencies responsible for their protection push them back to allow tourists to cover the land and for-profit companies to fill their place with domestic livestock. The political pressure on heads of government agencies comes from companies that give money to our elected representatives. And of course, almost all of our representatives are there dancing up and down with their little hands stretched out like beggars in a Calcutta alley. Here’s an excellent article from George Wuerthner that exposes the government lies. (Link to more about grizzlies)

Yellowstone Grizzlies (Daisy Gilardini -Getty Images)

“The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has decided to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bears, removing them from the protection afforded by the Endangered Species Act (ESA). And state wildlife agencies in Wyoming and Montana are anxious to start sport hunting the bears.

“If you follow environmental politics, it is very clear why industries like the oil and gas industry, livestock industry and timber industry and the politicians they elect to represent their interests are anxious to see the bear delisted. Without ESA listing, environmentally destructive practices will have fewer restrictions, hence greater profits at the expense of the bear and its habitat.

“Delisting is opposed by a number of environmental groups, including Center for Biodiversity, Western Watersheds, WildEarth Guardians, Alliance for Wild Rockies, Humane Society, as well as more than 100 tribal people. Conspicuously absent from the list of organizations opposing delisting is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition.

“Proponents of delisting, including the FWS, argue that with as many as 700 grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, thus ensuring the bears are now safe from extinction. Seven hundred bears may sound like a big number. But this figure lacks context.

“Consider that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is nearly 28 million acres in total area. That is nearly the same acreage as the state of New York. Now ask yourself if 700 bears spread over an area the size of New York sounds like a lot of bears?

“Many population ecologists believe 700 bears is far too small a number of animals to ensure long-term population viability. Rather than hundreds, we need several thousand bears.

“Keep in mind that the Yellowstone Grizzlies went through a genetic bottleneck when their population was reduced to an estimated 136 animals. Indeed, the Yellowstone grizzlies have the lowest genetic diversity of any bear population.

“This lack of diversity is exacerbated because dominant male grizzlies tend to breed with multiple female partners, further reducing the genetic diversity in the population.

“Add to this biological limitation is the changing food structure for the bear. Major food resources from elk to whitebark pine to spawning trout in Yellowstone have all declined, challenging bears to find new food resources.

“Plus, state wildlife management agencies are generally hostile to predators, seeing them hindering production of elk, deer, moose, and other animals desired by hunters.

“Without the protection of the ESA, and the loosening of restrictions on the killing of bears, more grizzlies will be killed for livestock depredations, as well as potentially by trophy hunters.

“Most predator biologists recognize that killing dominant animals, whether it is bears, wolves or cougars disrupts the social ecology of these animals, leading to more livestock depredation.

“In ecology, there is the “precautionary principle” which admonishes all of us to err on the side of caution. Instead of using the minimum estimates of what constitutes a “recovered” population, we should be careful and not rush to eliminate protections for an animal whose biological potential is low and is slow to recover from any declines.” –George Wuerthner (Why delisting of grizzly bears is premature | The Extinction Chronicles)

George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has authored 38 books, including “Wildfire: A Century of Failed Forest Policy.” He divides his time between Bend, Oregon, and Livingston, Montana.

Join the Battle for Net Neutrality

GR: Today is the day to help save internet freedom.  Please send your letter now.

Comcast, Verizon and AT&T want to end net neutrality so they can charge extra fees to control what we see & do online. Today, we take the first step to stop them. This is a battle for the Internet’s future. Before you do anything else, send a letter to the FCC & Congress now!  Join the Battle for Net Neutrality.

250,000+ Oppose USDA Proposal to Approve First-Ever Genetically Engineered Forest Tree

GR: Forest plantations are just another form of deforestation. A process that is harmful to nature and humanity. This is another telling example of a federal agency (the U. S. Department of Agriculture) favoring for-profit enterprises over nature conservation and protection of biodiversity and ecosystem stability.

“More than a quarter of a million people and 500 organizations submitted comments Wednesday rejecting the commercialization of ArborGen Inc.’s genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees, which, if approved, would be the first-ever GE forest tree approved in the U.S.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) proposed approval in April 2017, releasing a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) for public comment. This comment period ended on July 5. The GE eucalyptus trees are engineered to tolerate freezing temperatures in order to greatly expand their growing range. The approval of these GE trees could set a precedent for future approval of GE forest trees such as poplar and pine.

“In the dEIS, USDA downplayed or ignored the significant risks posed by these novel GE trees. The agency conservatively predicts commercial GE eucalyptus plantations would cover more than one million acres across seven southern states—from coastal South Carolina to eastern Texas. This would have devastating consequences across this region, which is home to a number of the poorest counties in the country, as well as some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. The region is already precariously threatened by climate change and sprawl.”

“GE eucalyptus plantations spread across the South would be a disaster,” stated Dr. Marti Crouch, consulting scientist for the Center for Food Safety. “Some non-GE eucalyptus species have already become invasive and are degrading natural areas. Plants and animals, including endangered species, will be unable to find suitable habitats within landscapes dominated by GE eucalyptus. Approving these trees is a terrible idea.”

“Just last month in Portugal, catastrophic wildfires that killed dozens were directly blamed on eucalyptus plantations that comprise more than one-quarter of Portugal’s tree cover. In January, Chile experienced the worst wildfires in its history. In both cases, eucalyptus monocultures—well-known for being extremely flammable and depleting ground water—contributed to dry conditions that combined with heat waves to create the perfect setting for wildfire. Already the U.S. South is experiencing frequent droughts and heat waves, and climate change forecasts predict more of the same. The dEIS made no mention of climate change impacts in its proposed approval of these GE eucalyptus trees.”

“GE eucalyptus is being pushed for commercialization to help feed the skyrocketing demand for trees for biomass electricity,” said Ruddy Turnstone, GE Trees Campaigner for Global Justice Ecology Project, and a resident of Florida in the region targeted for GE eucalyptus plantations. “But biomass is a false solution to climate change. Not only is it a major polluter, climate-stabilizing Southeastern forests are being decimated for the booming European biomass industry. GE eucalyptus plantations will only escalate this deforestation.”

“USDA’s assurances that GE eucalyptus will not escape into native forests are fatally undercut by the U.S.’s 30-year experiment with GE crops, which have escaped containment over and over again, despite industry and USDA claims they would not. GE trees are even more likely to escape and spread than GE crops, given their much longer lives, pollination distances and the unpredictable, changing conditions that can occur over the lifespan of the trees.” –Center for Food Safety (250,000+ Oppose USDA Proposal to Approve First-Ever Genetically Engineered Forest Tree)

Human Mistakes: Deforestation

Forests

Forests are long-lived communities of trees, shrubs, herbs, and wildlife. The communities form over centuries as birds and winds deliver seeds and spores to sites with sufficient moisture for big plants to grow. Across regions occupied by forests, the combined influence of annual precipitation and temperature usually varies from dry with small scattered trees to wet with dense forest with interlocked canopies.

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee (Country Living)

As forests develop, soils form and a diverse assemblage of arthropods, amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles gathers to fill habitats from the ground up to the canopy. The animals interact with the plants, pollinating flowers, scattering seeds, and forming many novel alliances.

Forests and the litter that accumulates on the ground transform environments. They moderate temperature and they absorb and hold moisture from precipitation. They protect the land from extreme heat and flooding. Forests are much finer places to live than the bare rock and dirt upon which they form.

Landslide in Nepal (Navesh Chitrakar Reuters/Landov)

Forests exist in a dynamic equilibrium with the forces of nature. Across a forest, natural events, fires, windstorms, floods, droughts, and late freezes, are often annual occurrences. These create a mosaic of forest of varying age. In tropical regions with stable climate, forests are older and more uniform in age than they are in temperate regions with variable climate.

Harvesting the Earth: Deforestation

Over the past few millennia, humans have accelerated forest dynamics. We have cut and burned to destroy patches of forest at a higher rate than natural forces ever did. We are doing these things so often, the forests do not have time to recover. And in many instances, we create and maintain crops and plantations that insure the forests will never recover.

Loggers, ranchers, and farmers cut forests for lumber, and cut or burn forests for livestock pastures, plantations, and farms. In the U. S., the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state forestry departments help timber companies maximize their profits by permitting clear cutting, and by building roads and erosion barriers. With the loss of trees and disturbance of the soil, flooding and erosion often increase. Habitat and wildlife are always lost.

Clearcut forest in Oregon.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, more than half of all animals on Earth have disappeared during the past 50 years (WWF 2016). Deforestation and other human activities are responsible.

Government agencies build roads to ease removal of the forests, and they pay ranchers to build fences and stock watering ponds. Sometimes they attempt to mitigate the harmful effects of tree removal by cutting terraces into the soil to slow runoff and by planting replacement trees. In few or no instances do the agencies give the planted trees enough time to regenerate the original forest before they are cut again.

Global Deforestation

A peatland forest clearing for a palm oil plantation in the Leuser ecosystem, South Aceh, Indonesia. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

Deforestation is ongoing around the world as cutting and burning convert forests to pastures, farms, and plantations. For example, Arthur Neslen of the Guardian reports, “Europe’s contribution to global deforestation may rise by more than a quarter by 2030, despite a pledge to halt such practices by the end of this decade, according to a leaked draft EU analysis.

“An estimated 13m hectares (Mha) of the world’s forestland is lost each year, a figure projected to spiral in the next 30 years with the AmazonGreater Mekongand Borneo bearing the brunt of tree clearances.

“But despite signing several international pledges to end deforestation by this decade’s end, more than 5Mha of extra forest land will be needed annually by 2030 to meet EU demand for agricultural products, a draft EU feasibility study predicts.” –Arthur Neslen (Source: Europe’s contribution to deforestation set to rise despite pledge to halt it | Environment | The Guardian)

Justifying Deforestation

People sometimes justify removing the forest as the unavoidable costs of human progress toward a better life of increased comfort and security. In most instances today, however, for-profit companies remove forests with little concern for people’s lives or the consequences for soils and wildlife.

The counter argument that the forest, every tree, and all the animals of the forest have value independent of humans is rarely heard. Here’s how Judi Bari put it:

“Deep ecology, or biocentrism, is the belief that nature does not exist to serve humans. Rather, humans are part of nature, one species among many. All species have a right to exist for their own sake, regardless of their usefulness to humans. And biodiversity is a value in itself, essential for the flourishing of both human and nonhuman life.

“These principles, I believe, are not just another political theory. Biocentrism is a law of nature, that exists independently of whether humans recognize it or not. It doesn’t matter whether we view the world in a human centered way. Nature still operates in a biocentric way. And the failure of modern society to acknowledge this – as we attempt to subordinate all of nature to human use – has led us to the brink of collapse of the earth’s life support systems.” –Judi Bari (Revolutionary Ecology)

Humans have cut and burned forests for thousands of years. The delightfully moderate environments created by forests, the opposite of urban heat islands or the monotony of farms, are disappearing. In our own special way, we are fouling our nest, but unlike the birds, we are not cleaning up after ourselves.


You can expand on this rambling introduction to deforestation by reading more posts on this blog or by reading many of the fine books available on Amazon.

Previous Posts (84) in this blog describe events and consequences for sites around the world.

 

How This Tanzanian Musician Made Ivory a National Campaign Issue

GR: Individual activists are important spark plugs for nature conservation and wildlife protection. Here’s a great example.

Shubert Mwarabu promotes the grassroots campaign to save Tanzania’s elephants at a festival in Iringa, in the southern highlands. PHOTOGRAPH BY MOHAMED MVUMBAGU, FEMINA HIP

“Until Shubert Mwarabu saw a photograph of an elephant with its face hacked and bloodied, poaching was an abstraction. He didn’t know anything about ivory trafficking, or even what ivory was used for. That was in 2011, and the Tanzanian musician was 25.

“The photo had a powerful impact on him, and from then on, he says, he threw himself into the fight to save Tanzania’s elephants.Mwarabu, who previously had organized clubs in primary schools for advocating against child abuse, now started school conservation clubs. He composed songs about protecting elephants. His first, called “Let’s Talk About Poaching,” or “Tupige Vita Ujangili” in KiSwahili, was played on Tanzania’s national radio station.

“His efforts have been noticed in Tanzania and beyond. The California-based nonprofit Generation Awakening, which works to support young environmental activists, appointed him their first country ambassador.

“In October 2013, Mwarabu launched a one-man campaign, naming it Me Against Poaching, to show that change can come from a single person.

“Now he’s leading the first organized citizen campaign to lobby the Tanzanian government to halt the ivory trafficking that has made this East African country ground zero in the slaughter of Africa’s elephants. Okoa Tembo wa Tanzania, “Save Tanzania’s Elephants,” succeeded in making conservation an election issue in the hotly contested presidential race, Mwarabu says.” –Maraya Cornell (How This Tanzanian Musician Made Ivory a National Campaign Issue)

WATCH on the original post: A video aired in 2013 shows investigative journalist Aidan Hartley attempting to gain access to a maximum-security warehouse in Tanzania that holds perhaps the world’s largest cache of raw ivory. Maintaining this stockpile is expensive. Moreover it can’t legally be sold. So why not follow Kenya’s example and burn it!

Trump “Review” Includes Seven of California’s National Monuments

GR: Republican tools of homocentric businesses are hard at work opening the land to exploitation. What happened to us? Is this capitalism run wild, or is it something quite a bit simpler. Is the solution simply to outlaw money in politics (this link takes you to one of my posts on this subject)? Would that lead to strong nature conservation, pollution restrictions, single-payer health, financial regulation, restricted arms sales, fewer wars, and more?

Trump Opens Monuments to Exploitation

Seven of California’s national monuments are under “review” as a result of President Trump’s executive order leveling an all-out assault on our public lands.

“In April, the Carrizo Plain National Monument, located in a remote area east of San Luis Obispo, California, erupted with wildflowers in an occasional event known as a “super bloom.” Bob Wick, with the Bureau of Land Management, wrote on the agency’s Flickr page that “(t)he Valley floor has endless expanses of yellows and purples from coreopsis, tidy tips and phacelia, with smaller patches of dozens of other species … (And) the Temblor Range is painted with swaths of orange, yellow and purple like something out of a storybook. I have never seen such a spectacular array of blooms. Ever.”

“The Carrizo Plain National Monument is one of seven California national monuments under review by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if they should remain as designated, or if their boundaries or management should be changed by the federal government. This unprecedented review, ordered by President Trump, affects 27 national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

“California’s seven national monuments under review are special places and must remain protected. These areas were designated after years of community-based organizing, extensive effort to detail the specific historical, cultural and ecological values that make these areas meet the strict criteria for monument designation, and broad public outreach efforts. These lands receive overwhelming public support from the local community and stakeholders. After monument designation, collaborative efforts continue with the monument management planning process involving all stakeholders, particularly the local communities around the monuments.

“In California, the president’s Executive Order affects seven national monuments—the most of any state with monuments under review. These seven monuments are widely supported by both Californians and most Americans. Many include lands sacred to Native American Tribes or capture historic locales celebrating our American legacy. Others provide invaluable cultural, scientific and recreational resources that provide immeasurable social, economic and ecosystem protection benefits to local communities. These monuments provide habitat for some of California’s most iconic wildlife, including the California condor, desert tortoise, and San Joaquin kit fox. They are places for both Americans and global visitors to reconnect with nature and recreate.” –Kim Delfino (California’s Monumental Distress – Defenders of Wildlife Blog)

EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide

GR: Our government believes its responsibility is to corporations and not to citizens. We really need to find and elect politicians that do not hold this belief. Pesticides are destroying pollinators and all the plants and animals that depend upon them. How can an “environmental protection agency” approve their use? What this shows is how easily corporations buy our president and his minions.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris and President Donald Trump in February.

“U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris before deciding to reverse an earlier EPA decision to ban the company’s toxic and widely used pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

“According to records obtained by the Associated Press, the EPA boss met with Liveris for about 30 minutes at a Houston hotel on March 9. Later that month, Pruitt announced that he would no longer pursue a ban on chlorpyrifos from being used on food, ignoring his agency’s own review that even small amounts of the pesticide could impact fetus and infant brain development.

“But EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman insisted to the AP that Pruitt and Liveris were only “briefly introduced” at the energy industry conference where both men were featured speakers.

“They did not discuss chlorpyrifos,” the spokeswoman said. “During the same trip he also met with the Canadian minister of natural resources, and CEOs and executives from other companies attending the trade show.”

[GR: Lying perhaps, but never mind; the pesticide needs to be banned.]

“According to the AP, Pruitt also attended a larger group meeting with two other Dow executives, but Bowman said they did not discuss the pesticide.

“The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), Pesticide Action Network and Earthjustice sued the EPA just days after Pruitt’s decision to reverse the EPA’s proposed ban on chlorpyrifos.

“The move adds to the Trump administration’s growing roster of decisions informed by ‘alternative facts,'” the NRDC’s Nicole Greenfield wrote in a blog post about the lawsuit. “Nearly two decades’ worth of scientific studies—including analyses by Pruitt’s own agency—have documented the numerous risks this bug-killer poses to children and pregnant women.”

“The American Academy of Pediatrics also sent a letter to Pruitt on Tuesday, urging the EPA to ban the pesticide and called the agency’s decision to allow its use a threat to children’s health.

“A lot has been reported about Dow’s seemingly close ties with Trump. The company donated $1 million to the presidential inauguration. Additionally, Liveris leads President Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing. In February, Liveris received Trump’s pen after he signed the “Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda” executive order aimed at eliminating regulations that the administration claims are damaging to the U.S. economy, but some worry that the measure will roll back critical environmental protections.” –Lorraine Chow (EPA Chief Met With Dow Chemical CEO Before Deciding Not to Ban Toxic Pesticide)

Judi Bari: Revolutionary Ecology and Biocentrism

GR: Judi Bari (1949-1997) wrote clearly and passionately about nature conservation. Her explanation of biocentrism is excellent.

Headwaters Forest Reserve

Biocentrism Definition of Nature Conservation

Judi Bari shows a photo blowup of Headwaters Forest as she speaks at a March 28, 1995 rally for Headwaters at Fisher Gate, near Carlotta CA. Photo (neg. A-22) by Nicholas Wilson, PO Box 943, Mendocino CA 95460.

“Deep ecology, or biocentrism, is the belief that nature does not exist to serve humans. Rather, humans are part of nature, one species among many. All species have a right to exist for their own sake, regardless of their usefulness to humans. And biodiversity is a value in itself, essential for the flourishing of both human and nonhuman life.

“These principles, I believe, are not just another political theory. Biocentrism is a law of nature, that exists independently of whether humans recognize it or not. It doesn’t matter whether we view the world in a human centered way. Nature still operates in a biocentric way. And the failure of modern society to acknowledge this – as we attempt to subordinate all of nature to human use – has led us to the brink of collapse of the earth’s life support systems.” –Judi Bari (Revolutionary Ecology)

Judi Bari read widely and used her knowledge to formulate a working definition of nature conservation. This is what she had to say about Marxist theory:

“According to Marxist theory, profit is stolen from the workers when the capitalists pay them less than the value of what they produce. The portion of the value of the product that the capitalist keeps, rather than pays to the workers, is called surplus value. The amount of surplus value that the capitalist can keep varies with the level of organization of the workers, and with their level of privilege within the world labor pool. But the working class can never be paid the full value of their labor under capitalism, because the capitalist class exists by extracting surplus value from the products of their labor.

“Although I basically agree with this analysis, I think there is one big thing missing. I believe that part of the value of a product comes not just from the labor put into it, but also from the natural resources used to make the product. And I believe that surplus value (i.e., profit) is not just stolen from the workers, but also from the earth itself. A clearcut is the perfect example of a part of the earth from which surplus value has been extracted. If human production and consumption is done within the natural limits of the earth’s fertility, then the supply is indeed endless. But this cannot happen under capitalism, because the capitalist class exists by extracting profit not only from the workers, but also from the earth.

“(Author’s note: At this point, Marxist scholars always object, citing Critique of the Gotha Program to say that Marx did recognize nature, as well as labor, as a source of value. But Marx makes the distinction between use value, which he says comes from nature and labor, and exchange value, which he says comes from labor alone. It is this point with which I am disagreeing. It seems obvious to me that use value, supplied by nature, helps determine exchange value. For example, redwood and fir trees grow side by side in the same forest, and at a similar rate. Yet the same amount of labor applied to cutting and mining a 600-year-old, 6-foot diameter redwood tree will produce more exchange value than if it were applied to cutting a 600-year-old, 6-foot diameter fir tree. The reason redwood is worth more is that it has certain qualities the fir lacks i.e., it is so rot resistant that it can be used for exposed siding or as foundation wood in direct contact with the soil, while the fir cannot. This quality of rot resistance does not come from anything added by human labor. It is a quality supplied by nature. So when I say that value comes from both labor and nature, I am referring to exchange value, not just use value.)” –Judi Bari, Revolutionary Ecology.

U.S. Quietly Removes 17 Sites From UN Biosphere Reserve Network

GR:  Few attacks on nature would be more pointless than this. Is the goal simply to smash anything beautiful and valuable for all people? Of course, somebody out there has a plan to make money on these sites.

Who did this? Trump has probably never heard of the Biosphere Reserves.

Embarrassing that while we remove sites, other countries, including Russia, are adding sites.

The following by Lorraine Chow: “The U.S. has quietly withdrawn 17 sites from the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves program. As first reported by National Geographic, the sites include a number of national forests, preserves and reserves from Alaska to the Virgin Islands (see list below). There were previously 47 biosphere reserves in the U.S. The move was made during the International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme meeting in Paris this week. Bulgaria also removed three sites.

“Prior to this year, a total of 18 sites had been removed from the program since 1997, by seven countries,” National Geographic noted.

“It’s not currently clear why the U.S. and Bulgaria asked to remove those sites: requests for comment have not yet been returned. In the past, sites were removed after countries were no longer able to meet the requirements of the program for protecting them.”

“According to the United Nations, biosphere reserves are nominated by national governments and remain under the sovereign jurisdiction of the states where they are located. As detailed by the conservation nonprofit George Wright Society, the biosphere program was launched in the 1970s to establish internationally designated protected areas, help minimize the loss of biological diversity, raise awareness on how cultural diversity and biological diversity affect each other, and promote environmental sustainability. But over the years, the program has been criticized by certain individuals and groups as—per this Infowars post—a United Nations “land grab” of American landmarks.

“The George Wright Society writes: “A large, almost bewildering variety of charges have been alleged about biosphere reserves. Many of these charges revolve around a basic fear and distrust of the United Nations. This category of objections includes such claims as the United Nations is poised to invade the United States, confiscate American land, impose some kind of ‘new world order’ on citizens here, and so forth. There is no truth whatsoever to these charges.”

The U.S. removed the following sites from the biosphere reserve program:

  1. Aleutian Islands National Wildlife Refuge – US Fish & Wildlife Service
  2. Beaver Creek Experimental Watershed – US Forest Service

The Beaver Creek site is not far from Coldwater Farm in central Arizona (photo by Northern Arizona University).

More….–Lorraine Chow (U.S. Quietly Removes 17 Sites From UN Biosphere Reserve Network.)

DAPL Approval by Corps of Engineers Illegal, Judge Finds

GR: Government control over environmental decisions leaves nature open to political depredation by greedy politicians and their corporate handlers. Policy backed by science instead of politics backed by greed should regulate all forms of land use including construction, farming, fishing, forestry, grazing, and mining. Though the power of money over reason often controls the courts in the largest cases, small regional cases such as those concerned with a single pipeline are sometimes handled rationally. Since the DAPL pipeline has already leaked, there is a fair chance the court will decide to halt transmission. (Don’t you love it when I make the most obvious comments?)

Court victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline (Lucas Reynolds).

Court Rules for the Standing Rock Sioux in DAPL Suit

Judge James Boasberg’s 91-page decision says U.S. Army Corps ‘did not adequately consider’ oil spill impacts; no ruling on whether to keep DAPL operational.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law in its fast-tracked approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington D.C. has ruled. Judge James Boasberg said the Corps did not consider key components of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in granting the Lake Oahe easement under the Missouri River when directed to do so by President Donald Trump shortly after his swearing-in.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with the Cheyenne River Sioux as interveners, had challenged the approval on the grounds that adequate environmental study had not been conducted. Boasberg agreed on many points, though he did not rule on whether the pipeline should remain operational. It has been carrying [and leaking] oil since June 1.

“Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial,” Boasberg said in his 91-page decision. “To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.” –ICMN Staff (DAPL Approval Illegal, Judge Finds – Indian Country Media Network).