Sioux Tribe Battles Admin Over Pipeline While Dealing with Massive Flooding
The Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota is requesting that Donald Trump drop his efforts to expedite the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. On Friday, in the midst of the state battling a flooding crisis, Trump issued a new presidential permit that would allow the pipeline to cross the Canadian border into the U.S. “Trump’s decision to ram KXL through while our families suffer feels like being kicked while we’re down,” said Tribal Chair Julian Bear Runner. The same Native communities that have been hit hardest by Midwestern flooding are also some of the most vocally opposed to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would pump up to 830,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day from Alberta, Canada, through Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska. Many are concerned that the pipeline will leak, contaminating the rivers and waterways that provide the reservations’ drinking water and that lie within territory the U.S. government illegally swindled away more than a century ago. They’re also worried about the long-term climate impacts of continuing the production of dirty tar sands oil. The tribe joined the state legislature in calling on officials in DC to declare a federal disaster in South Dakota, which would make FEMA aid available. “Rather than declaring emergencies that don’t exist, President Trump needs to pay attention to the ones that do,” Bear Runner said in a statement, referencing Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the U.S. border with Mexico. “I call upon him to send us help before lives are further disrupted.” The Oglala Sioux tribe estimates that 1,500 people are displaced from their homes and 500 lack access to drinking water. Adding insult to injury, Republican Governor Kristi Noem last week signed into law two bills creating civil penalties for “riot boosting,” which would apply not only to riot participants but to anyone who “directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence” -- which opponents say is aimed at curbing the tribes' right to protest in South Dakota. The ACLU is suing South Dakota for infringing on the free speech rights of organizations. More here.