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The Governor of North Dakota has ordered the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American Dakota Access Pipeline protestors to evacuate from the federal land where many have been camped out since last summer. The protestors face blizzard conditions but have, so far, refused to move. At issue is a nearly completed 1,100 mile pipeline designed to carry oil from northwestern North Dakota to Illinois. It’s slated to tunnel under a lake less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation which, protestors contend, poses a threat to their water supply. An update on the protest and its political implications.
- Matt Sepic Senior reporter, Minnesota Public Radio News
- Dallas Goldtooth Representative, Indigenous Environmental Network.
- Dina Cappiello Vice president, energy, Edelman
- Cynthia Quarterman Distinguished senior fellow, The Atlantic Council; former administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
- Amy Harder Reporter covering energy and climate policy, The Wall Street Journal
MS. DIANE REHMThanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Thousands of protestors from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other Native American groups are defying state orders to evacuate. They've been camped out for months on federal land near Bismarck, North Dakota, in an effort to block completion of an oil pipeline they say poses a risk to their water supply.
MS. DIANE REHMHere to talk about the protests and their national impact, Dina Cappiello, an energy industry consultant, Cynthia Quarterman of The Atlantic Council and Amy Harder of The Wall Street Journal. But first, joining us from Bismarck, North Dakota, is Matt Sepic. He's a senior reporter with Minnesota Public Radio News. Matt, I gather you've just been at the camps.
MS. DIANE REHMTell us what's going on there.
MR. MATT SEPICWell, there are thousands of people, as you mentioned, camped out just south of where the pipeline routes has been mapped out on federal land, as you mentioned. They've been there since April. They are vowing to stay despite orders from Governor Jack Dalrymple that they evacuate and orders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the land, that they get out and despite winter weather that is descending on Central North Dakota.
REHMWho are they, Matt?
SEPICAs you mentioned in your introduction, there are people from all sorts of Native American tribes from all across the country, not just the Standing Rock Sioux here in North Dakota. This has really galvanized Native Americans and also environmentalists. There are people from all walks of life, all ages, certainly young, college-age people here, but also middle-aged and tribal elders and people from across the spectrum who are all opposed to this project.
REHMAnd I gather you've got some 2,000 military veterans who say they're coming to form a human shield.
SEPICRight. They organized on Facebook in the last few weeks and said that about, yeah, 2,000 or so -- as many as 2,000 military veterans will be coming to support the protest camp starting on Sunday.
REHMSo Matt, the protestors say the route of this pipeline now poses a risk to their water supply. Do we absolutely know that to be a fact?
SEPICThat's what they argue. They are concerned that this short section of the line, which will go under the Missouri River in Central North Dakota directly north, really just a few thousand yards north of the tribal reservation boundary, they're concerned that if there's a leak of the line underneath the river, it could pollute this water supply, their water supply for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
REHMHas the Army Corps of Engineers gotten into the discussion with them?
SEPICWell, it's up to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because they manage the Missouri River. They don't oversee the entire pipeline, but just this section of it. And it would be up to them to issue an easement to allow this construction to go forward, but they have not done that yet. They ordered -- they halted construction, calling for more study just a weeks ago, on November 14th. So they are certainly a player in this and, of course, backers of the line, the company, Energy Transfer Partners, is urging this to go forward.
SEPICThey want that easement issued so construction can continue.
REHMAny resolution in sight that you can see?
SEPICNot that I can see. I was discussing this with a colleague just the other day trying to figure out what the end game is here. You know, will there be some sort of compromise, a possible change to the route? That doesn't appear likely because so much of the line has already been built. And, of course, that would require additional permitting and planning to change the route. I really don't see how this is going to shape up in the coming weeks and months.
REHMMatt Sepic, he is senior reporter with Minnesota Public Radio News. Thanks for joining us.
SEPICYou're welcome, Diane.
REHMAnd now, on the line with us is Dallas Goldtooth. He's with the Indigenous Environmental Network. Dallas, explain what that network is.
MR. DALLAS GOLDTOOTHHi. Thank you very much for having me on.
GOLDTOOTHThe Indigenous Environmental Network is a network of grassroots frontline indigenous communities across Turtle Island, also known as so-called North America. These are communities from the Gulf coast to the Southwest to the Pacific Northwest to here in the heart of the Bakkan all the way up into Alaska and Canada. So we work with numerous communities across the land to help them protect and defend -- to protect Mother Earth and to defend their indigenous rights.
REHMSo I gather you are one of the protestors and I'd like to know who long you've been at the camp.
GOLDTOOTHWell, first and foremost, I think that we've been really trying to change the narrative here on the ground and not identify as protestors, but really take ownership of the title as protectors. I mean, that's our title. That's what we are doing is protecting the land and the water and supporting Standing Rock Sioux Nation. I've been here off and on for the past four months and as the Keep it in the Ground campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network, I've been actively fighting against Dakota Access for about a year and a half now, since they first submitted their state permit or request for state permits through North Dakota and South Dakota.
REHMNow, we have an email from Edward saying, "the route of the pipeline was planned five years ago. $3 billion has already been spent. It's 97 percent complete. How come this protest didn't start five years ago?"
GOLDTOOTHWell, it's -- we're in an amazing moment right now where I think a lot of people are very aware of, you know, these infrastructure projects. Keystone XL was a significant example where people really realized the political and social clout that they could exert just if there was a lot of mass mobilization and good solid organizing. You know, even go back five years ago, even before Keystone XL, no one knew anything about pipelines. No one had that conversation or that language.
GOLDTOOTHAnd so, you know, with this -- the Keep it in the Ground Movement that's happening all across the country, you know, a lot of people are more aware of these infrastructure projects and more willing to speak up. And there's a rumor going around that Standing Rock or that people didn't speak up against this pipeline sooner. But you go back all the way to October 2014, there is verified, like, recordings of when Dakota Access and the state met with the tribe and made a -- that presented the plans to the tribe and the tribe completely, straight up said, no, we do not want this project.
GOLDTOOTHThat's over two years ago. So the tribe has been involved, has actively pushed against this project. And, you know, and really it comes down to the federal policy and law for consultation, that tribes need to be consulted. But what happened in this case is that Dakota Access and the state of North Dakota and the state of South Dakota and Iowa and Illinois met, developed the plans, developed the routes, developed all the procedures in place and started working on the permits and then went to Standing Rock and said, here are our plans.
GOLDTOOTHThat's not consultation. Consultation's not when the -- it doesn't happen when the bulldozer's knocking at your door. Consultation happens before the plans are even drawn up. That's the crux of the argument.
REHMDid the tribe participate in hearings before construction began on the pipeline?
GOLDTOOTHThere was public hearings on the reservation. The tribe participated and completely said, this is -- we do not approve of this route. That was over in October 2014. A number of tribal members participated in the public hearing process for the South Dakota Public -- the Utilities Commission for North Dakota speaking up against it as well as in South Dakota. IEN, our organization, submitted as interveners in the state permitting process over two years ago in South Dakota and a number of Standing Rock members as well, including the tribal historic preservation officer spoke up in resistance to this.
REHMSo Dallas, what sort of resolution are you hoping for?
GOLDTOOTHTo be honest, I'm -- we want to see this pipeline stopped. There is no better route. There is, you know, we don't want to push this pipeline and the oil that it's carrying onto any other communities and that we need to take a stand to truly address climate change by keeping fossil fuels in the ground and seek a just transition to a renewable localized energy production. That is the only choice that is the only proper choice and most direct choice in order for us to mitigate climate change and to really protect our rights as indigenous peoples.
GOLDTOOTHLike, whether it's going north of Bismarck, whether it's going south of Bismarck, you're still crossing indigenous lands and in the end of the day, it's still going down to the Gulf coast. It's impacting communities down there, communities of color, and it's also, in the end, with all the gas emissions, it's going to impact our relatives in the Arctic to the Amazon. So the only choice is to stop the pipeline.
REHMNow, considering how much of the pipeline has already been built, how realistically successful do you think you can be?
GOLDTOOTHWell, take it for a fact that you go back six months, no one knew about Dakota Access. Look at right now. This is a global movement of people who are standing up to speak on our behalf. Everyone from Bernie Sanders to your mom at the kitchen table are talking about this pipeline and the necessity for President Obama to stop it and to step it. I think that -- I see this as an amazing opportunity for us, as a people, on the ground, around the kitchen and in elected offices to demonstrate our political clout to make some crazy, amazing changes, stop a pipeline that is 90 percent complete in its tracks.
REHMAll right. Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, thanks for joining us.
REHMShort break. We'll be right back.
REHMAnd welcome back now. Joining me here in the studio, Dina Cappiello, vice president of energy at Edelman, Cynthia Quarterman, distinguished senior fellow at The Atlantic Council, former administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and Amy Harder, reporter covering energy and climate policy for The Wall Street Journal. You are invited to join us, 800-433-8850. Send us an email. Join us on Facebook or Twitter.
REHMAmy Harder, the camps are on federal land. The governor has ordered them off. Where are they going to go?
MS. AMY HARDERThe governor and also the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the federal agency most in charge here, they haven't really designated where to go. They've just ordered them to leave. However, both government entities have said they won't force them to leave. And so I think that's going to create an interesting dynamic to say the least about, you know, the protesters, as they call themselves, protectors. Whether or not they will follow those orders, it seems like we just heard from one that they won't. So I think things are really going to come to a head in the next week or so.
REHMIf you have near or blizzard conditions, how can these people stay on, Cynthia?
MS. CYNTHIA QUARTERMANWell, I think it'll be very difficult. Having run the Pipeline and Hazardous materials Safety Administration, we had inspectors out in the Bakken collecting oil from train sets, and they all needed very special equipment to be out there. To have protesters in tents and camps on the ground in the kind of weather that's coming up in the winter, I think, is -- it will be extremely unfortunate and it will have to change.
REHMAre there already lines in that river?
QUARTERMANThere are lines crossing that river. There are thousands of water crossings of pipelines in the United States already. I don't know the details of the particular route in terms of whether there are oil pipelines crossing at that point, but certainly it's not unusual to have crossings.
REHMDina, who owns the pipeline?
MS. DINA CAPPIELLOWell it's Dakota Access LLC, so it's a limited liability corporation. But that's owned by a Dallas-based company called Energy Transfer Partners. They own about three-quarters of it. The other 25 percent is Phillips 66, which is a petroleum refining company. And then, in August, to complicate matters, Marathon Petroleum, also an oil refiner, and Enbridge, another pipeline company, announced that they were going to buy a 50 percent stake in Energy Transfer Partners.
MS. DINA CAPPIELLOSo it's a partnership. Usually -- it's usually between the pipeline operators and oil companies that want the oil to refine it. This oil will go basically to a river port in Illinois, will then have myriad transportation options to get to refiners that can refine it.
REHMNow, how different is this pipeline from the XL Pipeline that President Obama stopped?
CAPPIELLOWell I covered the Keystone XL Pipeline for AP before my recent job switch. And I think there's actually a lot of differences. So in the case of Keystone, you're talking about a pipeline that was going to bring Canadian tar sands oil, a very heavy oil, to specialized refineries in Texas that have the capability to refine that. It required a presidential permit. So it was literally on the president's desk, in his hand, that decision, because it crossed an international border.
CAPPIELLOAnd it was also used by the environmental community as kind of a throw-down to Obama in a sense, to say, hey, you are an environmental president. You have taken more action against climate change than any other president in U.S. history. Let's see if you really mean it and keep this oil in the ground. And that was kind of the implicit argument. it was a very climate-centric argument. It was kind of throwing down the gauntlet to an environmental-friendly president.
CAPPIELLOIn this case, as our former caller just said, Dallas, there is an environmental argument. It's a water argument. There is a climate argument. But to put this in perspective for people on the phone, this oil -- the oil that would come through this pipeline is about 500,000 barrels a year. Currently, today in the United States, 3.7 billion barrels of oil go through pipelines across the United States. So in terms of the climate impact, it's a little bit different than KXL as well, because this is a light, sweet crude. It's highly volatile. It's easier to refine. It's closer to what the end products are going to be. So two different kinds of crude.
CAPPIELLOAnd this is also a -- really a issue and a fight about indigenous rights, water rights. We heard about consultation, respect for those rights. That actually, you know, if you look at history between tribal nations and oil and gas production, there has been clashes all over this country -- whether it's about pipelines, whether it's about production, brine spills that happened on reservations for production, and also for some tribes, even in North Dakota, great benefit. Though, you know, where the Bakken Shale is, is on a reservation. They got $500 million in leases. They get a million a month for royalties. So there has been benefit to some other tribes in the area as well.
REHMHow realistic, Amy Harder, is the concern about pollution of water?
HARDERWell, I think that's been one of the more local concerns of people who live around pipelines. We've also heard a lot of concerns about water pollution for hydraulic fracturing. This whole debate of pipelines and infrastructure and fracking is, as Dallas said, from an indigenous organization, you know, all part of this, quote, "keep it in the ground" movement. Trying to keep fossil fuels in the ground as opposed to drilling for them and moving them around. So I think, you know, water pollution is a concern. We have seen pipeline spills throughout the last decade or so, especially with the increase in oil production.
HARDERBut that being said -- and I know Cynthia can speak to this -- oil pipelines are certainly the safest way to transport oil. We have not seen, for example, oil train explosions recently, due, in part, to the drop in oil production, but also because there have been more oil pipelines coming online to move that oil instead of by train.
REHMSo I asked Dallas about testifying, about commenting how far back the comments or protests went. How does a company go about getting permits, especially when a native reservation is involved?
QUARTERMANWell, it's very interesting. If this were a natural gas pipeline, the federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be in charge of doing the environmental impact statement and doing all of that permitting work along the way. On the oil pipeline side, it's a different legal standard altogether. The only reason that, for example, the Keystone XL Pipeline was able to be stopped, because the State Department was involved and it crossed the international border.
QUARTERMANIf that pipeline were one mile away from the border and went straight down, there would be no need for the Department of State to be involved. There would have been no process. So here we have a situation where it's an oil pipeline and there is no federal agency who is involved in permitting an oil pipeline. The way these things happen on the oil pipeline side is state by state, the company goes state by state, works with the local and state officials. They acquire the land. The only reason the Corps of Engineers is involved is because of the water crossings. They have authority, under the Clean Water Act, the Rivers and Harbors Act, where you cross under the water, they have to do some environmental work and permitting.
QUARTERMANSo they really have a teeny, tiny piece of this whole pipeline. And the indigenous community there is going to them, asking them a bigger question, which is about the entire pipeline itself. I mean, we're talking mainly about the Missouri River crossing. But it's a much bigger question. And nobody in the federal government has ownership of that.
REHMSo what has gone wrong in this particular instance?
QUARTERMANThe government does have a responsibility. It has a trust responsibility to the native communities. And they need to talk on a government-to-government relationship with them. I'm sure the Corps of Engineers has had hearings and checked those boxes. But having been involved in production on federal lands in the past, at the Department of Interior, I can tell you, you have to spend a great deal of time listening to the native communities and talking to them about what is going to happen here. It sounds like perhaps more time needs to be invested in this.
QUARTERMANAnd I just want to comment on one other thing, which the keep-it-in-the-ground movement. This oil is already out of the ground. So that is not the issue. It's, right now, traveling on trains primarily. So it's not going to stay in the ground.
REHMBut if you were in charge, say, of this particular problem, what should have been done that wasn't done, to create this kind of protest?
QUARTERMANUnder the current system, where there is no federal overseer, I think the companies involved, along with the Corps to the extent that they were willing to do so, needed to have a longer conversation with the communities there to talk about what is happening with this pipelines, what effects it might have along the route, and really spend some more time, I think, in advance to make this happen.
HARDERI've noticed the increasing change in rhetoric and I would say a little bit conflicting rhetoric, based upon who you talk about who's fighting this pipeline. You have people like Dallas, from the indigenous organization that we just heard from, who said that there is no other route that they think would work. That they want to stop the pipeline altogether. But then you have people like Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate, just the other day called for President Obama to change the route of the pipeline.
HARDERNow, the route changes was also a big conversation in Keystone XL. It started out that way. It was a discussion about how to change the route, until ultimately, seven years later, President Obama rejected the pipeline. Now in this case of Dakota Access, it has already been changed many times before. So this discussion of a route change, some people say, is really just a Trojan Horse to delay it. Of course, now, with President-elect Donald Trump taking over in a couple of months time, I think the delay tactic has been turned on its head. If Hillary Clinton had won, I think the protesters would have had much better luck. And now things seem much more uncertain on that front.
CAPPIELLOYeah, I mean, you're going from a, you know, a keep-it-in-the-ground sympathetic president to take-it-out-of-the-ground-ASAP, what President-elect Trump has said. So obviously, you have -- you've got two things going on here. You have the policy change, which is monumental, from a president that was very aggressive on climate change, to a president-elect who is saying that he doesn't really believe in climate change and its (WORD?) sources. You have a pro-infrastructure president-elect coming in, wants to build energy infrastructure to the point where the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners told NBC News he's 100 percent certain that President-elect Trump will approve this pipeline when he gets into office.
CAPPIELLOAnd then you actually have Trump's business connections. So there's this policy shift, right? His adviser, Kellyanne Conway, is actually heading up to the tar sands, actually resurfacing speculation he may ask Trans Canada to reapply and build that pipeline, just that's a little data point that was in The Post the other day. But then you have his business connections. So not only did he own stock in Energy Transfer Partners -- his latest financial disclosures according to the AP show about a $15,000 to 50,000K investment in the company that owns the majority of this pipeline. That's down from a 500K to a million dollar investment in this company from the year prior. But the CEO of this company gave 100K to the Trump PAC and also 3K to his campaign.
REHMAnd you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Cynthia, how concerned are you that, in fact, everything regarding not only this pipeline, but the other pipeline coming from Canada, that all of that is going to be reversed?
QUARTERMANWell, I think that infrastructure is going to be a big part of what…
QUARTERMAN…President Trump -- President-elect Trump plans to do. And in administrations past, we have seen -- Republican administrations past -- a big push to do a lot of leasing, a lot of infrastructure, a lot of things very quickly. And they have almost always been hampered at the gate because of protests and litigation and people fighting back. So they have actually not done what they've wanted to do in many instances. And you've seen more movement forward in, say, a President Obama administration in some of these efforts. So, to me, if they are smart, they will back up a little bit and try to de-escalate the situation here, go back to the table with everybody involved.
QUARTERMANIf they want to do more infrastructure projects in the future, they have to get everybody together…
REHMMm-hmm. On board.
QUARTERMAN…on board, exactly, and deal with that.
REHMAnd the difference here -- the Keystone XL Pipeline was about climate and climate change -- this argument seems to be about land rights and who owns the land under which these pipes would go, Amy.
HARDERRight. Well, I think land rights was also a big part of the Keystone XL debate in the early years as well. In this case, the Army Corps controls the crossing. And even though they can -- the holding back approval of one easement, that's all it takes, in this case, to hold up the entire process. Now the pipeline doesn't actually go on the Native American tribe's land. It goes near it. And the tribe has said that that's still sacred to them.
HARDERBut even still, I see the debates about land rights and Native American rights being quite complementary to the climate change debates. I think you see these Native American's having a louder voice on the national stage, in part, because national environmental groups and environmental leaders such as Vice President Al Gore, really take this on as their issue as well. I think without the environmental movement, these tribes would have a harder time getting their voice out.
REHMSo do you see this argument continuing long into the future, Dina?
CAPPIELLOAbsolutely. I mean, as Dallas said, I mean, Keystone XL really put this issue on the map. Prior to this, we didn't really hear about pipelines. You know, the AP did an investigation looking at kind of the approval times, prior to Keystone XL -- it was like seven years for Keystone XL -- it was a year and a half. Nobody said much. I mean there was always the fights over eminent domain and grabbing people's lands and those kind of tricky issues that you always get with pipeline routes. But with Trump in the White House, as Cynthia said, you are going to see more litigation, more protests. Because he, I…
CAPPIELLO…he has come in as a pro-infrastructure, pro-fossil fuels president-elect.
REHMDina Cappiello, she's vice president for energy at Edelman. We'll take a short break here. When we come back, your calls, your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.
REHMAnd we're talking about yet another pipeline, this one being protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and other American Dakota Access Pipeline protesters -- they have maintained they will stay on that ground because they want to see the pipeline stopped. We've got an email from Margaret who says can your guests confirm whether the original pipeline route was much closer to Bismarck but was changed when Bismarck citizens objected and their city council voted against that route. Amy.
HARDERCorrect. One of the route changes was to move it away from the more heavily populated area of Bismarck, North Dakota. And that just goes back to our conversation about whether or not this is actually a conversation about rerouting the pipeline or stopping it altogether. I think you have different camps within the side of people who are critical of this current route and pipeline. You have some who want to find a safer route and some who want to get rid of it altogether.
HARDERAnd the past has shown that in fact, according to some people, that this is actually the best route. The one that goes near the Native Americans' tribes' land, but farther away from Bismarck.
REHMAnd second question from Margaret, is it possible for pipeline companies to get insurance against potential damage from leaks or breaks? What do you think, Cynthia?
QUARTERMANWell, certainly, pipeline companies have insurance. A number of them, especially this size, probably self-insure, so that if there is a break, they are responsible for the cleanup and for any affects to the community.
REHMHowever, it's pretty difficult to get that to happen when it does happen. Isn't that true?
QUARTERMANWell, it's not as hard as you might think. Actually, they, I mean, the EPA is responsible for instituting the Clean Water Act and making sure that if there are any spills into the waters, that they are cleaned up by the company and people are actually taken back to whole.
REHMAnd then a question from Chuck following up on the last. If Bismarck residents already rejected the pipeline due to water supply risks, why is it being pushed on people and through the Sioux Tribe and their water supply, Amy?
HARDERRight. I mean, this is an age old question. In some respects, going back to the concept of Nimbyism, not in my backyard. Nobody wants, most people I would say, don't want a pipeline going through their backyards because they have quite legitimate concerns of water pollution. And while, perhaps, the risk is low, the, the aftermath would be high if a spill would occur. So I think it raises questions about is there any safe place out in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota? It's a quite rural state. I've been there.
HARDERBut you're always going to upset somebody. And it's about minimizing that risk and that's the difficult task of the Army Corps. And the Obama Administration at large, which is -- has said it's discussing with the tribe and others if they can find a better route.
REHMAll right, and an email from Joan, who says there's been a virtual silence on the part of major media on the brutality with which police are treating the water protectors at Standing Rock. I've heard nothing about it. Attacking the demonstrators with attack dogs, water cannons in below freezing weather. Rubber bullets et cetera, not only at the protectors, but also at medical people and journalists.
QUARTERMANYeah, there actually has been some coverage of this, so the Post has written about the use of water cannons, which were done in sub-freezing temperatures, sending about 17 people to the hospital and being treated for hypothermia. There was also an armed security guard that was working on behalf of the pipeline company, who allegedly waved a assault rifle at a tribe's teenager. A teenager that was in the protest camp. So it has gotten increasingly violent. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now was involved in this.
QUARTERMANTalking about part of a riot conditions the police have been saying. So, it has gotten increasingly violent as this has dragged on and on to the point now where you have North Dakota lawmakers and Congress saying last night on the floor that somebody has to intervene. Calling on the President to intervene to stop the protest, even Al Gore saying that. Calling it an atrocity, not because of climate change, his pet issue, but an atrocity because of the treatment of the protestors at the camp.
REHMSo the deadline for this to be done with apparently is Monday, December 5th. How is that deadline imposed and what can happen by then, Amy?
HARDERWell, because both the Army Corps and the North Dakota Governor have said that they won't force the protestors to leave, I think it's -- remains to be seen exactly what will happen that day. I think one thing we can be sure of is that things will escalate quite significantly and it will be a turning point one way or another. I think the weather is also -- Mother Nature can be a quite powerful force in these types of situations, so I think that could also be a factor.
HARDERI think the way this grass roots movement reacts to President-elect Donald Trump is also another factor to think about. I think they will only get more intense and more dug in on these issues realizing they now have a full throated foe in the White House come January 20th.
REHMAll right. I'm going to open the phones now. 800-433-8850. Let's go first to Marnie in Van, Texas. You're on the air.
MARNIEThank you for taking my call.
MARNIEThank you, Diane, for covering this. This is such an important topic and your guests are right. There is some coverage being -- happening, but it's not enough. Not compared to one iota of what President-elect got in the run-up to this election. So I think that the justice, the injustice that's happening, it ripples deeper than you know. I'm in rural America, in Texas, but I used to live up in that area in eastern Montana, turned down a job in North Dakota primarily because of the impact that the oil drilling was having on small town communities.
MARNIESo these ripples are far, far, far more reaching and the water protectors know this. This right that they have that has been negated. Where is the environmental impact statement? Your -- one of your guests said this earlier, that where is the -- we have a protocol, as meaningless as it seems to be in the corporate face of owning our country. But this is what the moment is. Where are we following these rules and why are we not seeing the environmental impact statements?
CAPPIELLOWell, the environmental impact statement, I believe, Cynthia, and you should chime in here, too, has been done. And I think it's being reviewed for this new crossing, as that's the status right now.
QUARTERMANThe Corps of Engineers has done an environmental impact statement, but only as to those crossings of the water and they found -- they did a Fonzie, which is a finding of not significant impacts. So I think they're back -- you know, their recent announcement seemed to be more of let's continue to talk about what the tribe wants out of this and where might the route go.
REHMYou know, it's interesting, during the break we were talking about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He approved one pipeline, rejected another. What's all that about, Amy?
HARDERRight. It's really interesting, given the US's history with Canada and the Keystone XL Pipeline. We seem to have a switch in the type of leadership we had. Steven Harper, who has lost to Trudeau, in this last election, and now Trudeau is very much left leaning progressive Prime Minister, wants to have a carbon -- nationwide carbon tax in Canada. And now you have President Obama leaving and President-elect coming, who has policies quite similar to Harper, in fact.
HARDERSo, what happened this week is Prime Minister Trudeau tried to walk a fine line of approving one pipeline, by Kinder Morgan. It's actually an expansion of an existing pipeline that would triple the capacity, taking oil sands from Canada to the coast. And that's worth about 4.1 billion US dollars. At the same time, Trudeau rejected Enbridge's pipeline, the Northern Gateway, which has been going for, you know, more -- longer than what Keystone was reviewed for.
HARDERAnd so he -- and he also approved another expansion project, replacement project, excuse me, also by Enbridge. So he was really trying to have it both ways, so to speak, and walk a fine line to support some and reject others. He has really upset a lot of the environmentalists in Canada about this, and some here in the US. But I think you'll see that that type of middle ground approach by Trudeau, whereas here in the US, I think President-elect Trump has been pretty clear that he will approve pipelines that he is able to. He has said that he would approve Keystone XL as well.
HARDERAnd I suspect he will try to do that as well with Dakota Access although there's not as clear of a route to approval as there was with Keystone.
REHMAnd there on Dakota Access, I want to go back to you, Dina. Because you mentioned Trump's investment in Dakota Access and the company that has become a partner in that process. How is he going to separate out himself from making that kind of decision which could affect the Native Americans?
CAPPIELLOWell, I think it's going to be difficult. I mean, to put this in context, when you're talking about President-elect Trump, when you're talking about current financials that show 15 to 50 K, this is a meager investment in the broad scheme of all of his other investments. But I think it raises issues, right, about him detangling himself from these business associations and investments that he could profit from as President-elect. Right? And that's kind of the issue here.
CAPPIELLOHe also, by the way Diane, owns some stock in Phillips 66, which is a quarter percent owner of the pipeline. There was one report that he said he was going to divest himself and had divested himself of the stock in Energy Transfer Partners. So it is going to be a complex, I think, dance, but I think more important, to Amy's point, I think it's his policies that are going to kind of lead the day. And his, his, his desire to expand energy infrastructure and to ratchet up fossil fuels.
CAPPIELLOBut I'd add one thing. There is a market here, right? And, you know, the building, if Dakota Access goes through, it all depends on oil prices, right? So you're also seeing, you know, tar sands with low oil prices these days. Tar sands production going down. So there is that factor that I think will play into his decision as he goes forward.
REHMAnd we have someone saying, why is your panel entirely ignorant? The Dakota Access Pipeline violates the Constitutional requirement to honor existing treaties? Cynthia?
QUARTERMANI'm not really sure what your panelist, what treaty your panelist is referring to. As Amy pointed out, the pipeline route itself does not actually go across Indian land. This, the, the Standing Rock Sioux land. I think their concern is more with the effects of any outflow of that pipeline onto their lands.
REHMGood. I'm glad you clarified that for our caller. And you're listening to The Diane Rehm Show. And to Russell in Dublin, New Hampshire. You're on the air.
RUSSELLHi, I just have a couple of questions. One is...
RUSSELL...the question of existing treaties with Native American nations, which, which Canada has been dealing with but Steven Harper was defeated. And British Columbia is now in recession because of some of the oil sands problems. And the other question is that the Standing Rock Sioux have brought a case which is on behalf of all the users of the Missouri River. So it's not just a few thousand Native Americans who are involved in this case. It's actually tens of millions of Americans who use the river water. And by implication, I think, one can ask questions about the state of the nation's water supplies.
REHMAll right sir, thanks for your call. Amy.
HARDERI think one common theme that we've seen bubble up for the last couple of years, aided in part by environmental groups, also supporting this cause, is that Native Americans don't feel like the US government has really listened to them and treated them like a sovereign nation as they should be. So you've seen the Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, really emphasize this the last several months. And for her several years in that post, trying to give the rights that the Native Americans are due. I think one example happened up in the Pacific Northwest in Bellingham, Washington.
HARDERThere was a coal export proposed for that region and the US Army Corps of Engineers, again, rejected that based upon the Tribal Rights of the Lummie Nation. So you're seeing these tribal rights assert themselves more and more in recent years, and I think this Dakota Access fight is the latest example of that. I think we will see a quite change in policy on that front when President-elect Trump has come in. I don't, I don't know what he has said, the extent of Native American rights, but it will certainly be different than what it has been under President Obama.
CAPPIELLOI just want to get back to the treaty because I actually looked it up. Which is that the claim is that this pipeline violates the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty, which guarantees the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe the undisturbed use and occupation of their land. Obviously, and you made a valid point, technically, this is not on the reservation. But there's also claims that it also -- it violates the executive order on environmental justice. Because it was moved from a more populous area to a less populated one near Native Americans. And so that's one of the other claims. And then on the EIF issue, there actually was an environmental assessment.
REHMAnd we have an email saying that the 1850 Laramie Treaty shows the land pipeline will go through Indian territory and a standing offer today from the US government to pay several billion dollars to settle violations of it show that the US recognizes it.
HARDERYeah, I mean, I'm not too familiar with these treaties, but from what I understand, the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which, and there's only a very small percentage of pipe that's actually not in the ground. I think most of it is actually in the ground, 99 percent of it, doesn't actually go on tribal lands. That's not to say it doesn't have sacred rights, but that's, that's what the Army Corps has said, and what others have said. So, I know one issue that we've seen on this issue and others throughout the Presidential campaign, is everybody trying to agree to the same set of facts.
HARDERSo, that's been difficult. I think not being on the actual land of the tribe doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't have rights to the tribe. But in this particular case, that's, that's my understanding.
REHMWell, this is one we're going to have to continue to watch. As we said, the deadline that the Governor has set and the Corps of Engineers has set is Monday. So we'll be watching that. Thank you, all. Dina Cappiello, Cynthia Quarterman and Amy Harder for being with us.
QUARTERMANGreat to be here.
REHMAnd thanks all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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