The Center for Biological Diversity
For Immediate Release, August 18, 2021
Julie Teel Simmonds, Center for Biological Diversity, (619) 990-2999, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Lavigne, RISE St. James, (225) 206-0900, email@example.com
Anne Rolfes, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, (504) 452-4909, firstname.lastname@example.org
Decision Follows Lawsuit, Permit Suspension, Public Pressure
WASHINGTON— The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Wednesday it will require a full “environmental impact statement” for the massive petrochemical complex Formosa Plastics proposes to build in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The decision is a major victory for opponents of the plant, who sued to block the project in January 2020 and convinced the Army Corps to suspend its permit last fall.
Wednesday’s announcement means the Army Corps will now do a complete analysis of the public health, environmental, climate, environmental justice and cultural impacts of what would be one of the world’s biggest plastic-making plants. Plaintiff groups representing the Black and low-income communities affected by the project — from an already polluted industrial corridor known as Cancer Alley or Death Alley — have long said a proper environmental review would show the project should never be built.
“The Army Corps has finally heard our pleas and understands our pain. With God’s help, Formosa Plastics will soon pull out of our community,” said Sharon Lavigne with RISE St. James, who earlier this year was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work defending her community from petrochemical polluters. “Nobody took it upon themselves to speak for St. James Parish until we started working to stop Formosa Plastics. Now the world is watching this important victory for environmental justice.”
RISE St. James, Louisiana Bucket Brigade and Healthy Gulf were represented in the litigation over this permit by the Center for Biological Diversity. Local opponents of the project have been aggressively dismissed, arrested and publicly criticized over their work to stop this project, which received huge taxpayer subsidies from the state.
“Today’s announcement is the ultimate David v. Goliath victory,” said Anne Rolfes, executive director of Louisiana Bucket Brigade. “We were not scared of Formosa Plastics and its $9 billion project, or the fact that our governor has been cheering for Formosa all along. St. James Parish residents are the ones who have shown leadership and wisdom. What the Corps has done today is common sense. Of course one of the biggest plastics plants in the world should require an environmental impact statement. Our state and federal officials should have demanded it from the outset. I am hopeful that this is the nail in the coffin of Formosa Plastics in St. James Parish. And don’t try to build somewhere else. Pack up and go home.”
The proposed facility would emit 13.6 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 3.5 coal-fired power plants. It will also produce 800 tons of toxic air pollutants annually, doubling air emissions in St. James Parish, to produce plastic for single-use packaging and other products. Recent studies have linked exposure to air pollution with higher COVID-19 death rates. It’s one likely factor in the disease’s disproportionate impact on Black Americans.
The lawsuit sought to invalidate Clean Water Act permits issued by the Army Corps in 2019. It asserted that officials violated federal laws in approving the destruction and damage of wetlands, which help protect the region from hurricanes that are intensifying with climate change. The Corps also ignored the water, air, climate, and health impacts of the complex and failed to properly evaluate and protect burial sites of enslaved people discovered on the property.
“This long-overdue review will show the unacceptable harm Formosa Plastics’ massive petrochemical complex would inflict on this community, our waterways, and our climate,” said Julie Teel Simmonds, a senior attorney at the Center. “This terrible project shouldn’t have been rubber-stamped and it should never be built. Climate action and environmental justice mean we have to stop sacrificing communities and a healthy environment just to make throwaway plastic.”
The growing chorus of project opponents includes the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, which called the project “environmental racism” in March and urged U.S. officials to reject the project.
Formosa Plastics’ massive proposed petrochemical complex would include 10 chemical manufacturing plants and numerous support facilities, spanning 2,500 acres, just one mile from an elementary school. By turning fracked gas into the building blocks for a massive amount of single-use packaging and other wasteful plastic products, the project would worsen climate change and the ocean plastic pollution crisis.
Last year Formosa Plastics agreed to pay a record $50 million in cleanup and restoration costs to settle a civil lawsuit after its Point Comfort plant discharged billions of plastic pellets into Texas waterways over many years. That settlement included a commitment to zero future plastic discharges from the Texas plant — a standard that has not been applied to its plant in Louisiana.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
RISE St. James is a faith-based organization working to protect the land, air, water and health of the people of St. James Parish from the petrochemical industry.
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade collaborates with communities adjacent to petrochemical plants, using grassroots action to create an informed, healthy society and hasten the transition from fossil fuels.
Healthy Gulf is a regional nonprofit whose purpose is to collaborate with and serve communities who love the Gulf of Mexico by providing the research, communications, and coalition-building tools needed to reverse the long pattern of over exploitation of the Gulf’s natural resources.
For Immediate Release:
Press Contact: Jennifer K. Falcon, email@example.com, 218-760-9958
Washington D.C. (April 9th, 2021)- The Army Corp announced today that they will not be shutting down the Dakota Access pipeline despite it lacking the proper operating and environmental permits. This move continues to ignore the treaties and voices of the Standing Rock Tribal Nation who have been vocal about their opposition to the pipeline for over five years. The decision comes on the heels of the Standing Rock Youth Council taking over the streets of to D.C. last week with a 318-foot-long snake to deliver 400,000 petition signatures in support of shutting DAPL down to the Army Corps.
The federal judge overseeing the case announced he will be making a decision on whether he will order the pipeline to be shut down or not by April 19th, 2021.
Joye Braun, IEN DAPL Frontline Organizer, Cheyenne River Sioux Nation Citizen: “It is imperative that the Biden administration shut down DAPL now. The Army Corps of Engineers should not twist the rule of law to favor big oil interests and further spit on the nation-to-nation relationship between tribal nations and the US Government. The Biden Administration needs to do the right thing and stop this illegal pipeline. Why allow something illegal to continue? Set the example, honor the treaties, and show that the rule of law is greater than oil corporate interests. We will no longer accept being the sacrificial lamb for corporate raping of our Mother Earth and her water.”
Maya Monroe Runnels-Black Fox, Co-chair of the Standing Rock Youth Council: “It’s been a long hard five years, but we are the defenders of the land and protectors of this water. The youth will continue on fighting these black snakes for our people and the next 7 generations to come. President Joe Biden needs to act now and keep his promise to be a climate president.”
Waniya Locke, Standing Rock Grassroots: “The Army Corps of Engineers and Biden have the authority to shut down the illegal Dakota access pipeline and protect 10 million people’s drinking water. Inaction is no longer acceptable behavior when we are in a climate crisis. Our tribal sovereignty can save 10 million people drinking water, if the Amry Corps respected our sovereignty.”
Tasina Sapa Win Smith, Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective:
“The Biden administration and ACOE have declared another battle with the Oceti Sakowin First Nations people by allowing the illegal continuation of dirty oil to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline. Biden’s inaction to protect our fragile ecosystems, natural resources, traditional medicines, and indigenous rights is a clear sign that this administration is the exact opposite of the climate leadership narrative they promised to lead during his campaign. As Indigenous people, it is our inherent right to protect our natural resources and future generations. With that said, the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are ready to take courage by putting our unarmed bodies on the line and freedoms at risk to stop this ongoing injustice against our nation and all of Turtle Island. That is what true climate leadership takes — courage. Biden, be bold.”
Established in 1990, The Indigenous Environmental Network is an international environmental justice nonprofit that works with tribal grassroots organizations to build the capacity of Indigenous communities. I EN’s activities include empowering Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, the health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
Featured image: The Oceti Sakowin camp is currently home to thousands of water protectors and allies. (Photo: Reuters)
by Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday informed Indigenous water protectors and their allies that they have nine days to vacate the main Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp—or else face arrest.
“This decision is necessary to protect the general public from the violent confrontation between protestors and law enforcement officials that have occurred in this area, and to prevent death, illness, or serious injury to inhabitants of encampments due to the harsh North Dakota winter conditions,” Col. John Henderson of the Corps said in a letter to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II.
The Oceti Sakowin camp, on the banks of the Cannonball River, will be closed Monday, December 5, the letter warned. Any individuals found on Army land north of the river after that date would be considered trespassing and could be prosecuted.
The Corps said it would establish a “free speech zone” south of the Cannonball River on Army lands.
But Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), told the Bismarck Tribune that “there’s not enough land on the south side of the river where many are already camping; and a planned winter camp on 50 acres of reservation land near Cannon Ball is not yet ready, with groundbreaking set for next week.”
What’s more, he noted that “the eviction deadline is the day after more than 2,000 American war veterans are scheduled to arrive at the camp to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock,” the Tribune reports.
Archambault issued a statement in response to the Corps, saying the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe “is deeply disappointed in this decision by the United States, but our resolve to protect our water is stronger than ever.”
“It is both unfortunate and ironic that this announcement comes the day after this country celebrates Thanksgiving—a historic exchange of goodwill between Native Americans and the first immigrants from Europe,” he continued. “Although the news is saddening, it is not at all surprising given the last 500 years of the treatment of our people. We have suffered much, but we still have hope that the President will act on his commitment to close the chapter of broken promises to our people and especially our children.”
Indian Country Today reports:
The notice from the Army Corps comes less than a week after Morton County Sheriff’s deputies sprayed rubber bullets, mace and water on more than 400 people demonstrating at a bridge blockade not far from the camps. Temperatures were below freezing when protectors were repeatedly hosed down by police that Sunday night, November 20. There have also been reports that concussion grenades were fired at protectors. Dozens were hospitalized, including 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, who may face the amputation of her arm, and Cheree Lynn Soloman, who is fundraising for eye surgery.
“If you were concerned about the safety of the fucking people you would have taken your ass out there and you would’ve cut their fucking hoses,” lamented Kash Jackson, an Army veteran from Michigan. His Facebook LIVE rant was broadcast shortly after the Corps announced its warning to water protectors that anyone choosing to stay on Corps land beyond December 5 would be doing so “at their own risk.”
“You stand firm, Standing Rock,” Jackson continued. “You stand firm right where you’re at. They want to push you off that land. It’s not their land to begin with.”
Meanwhile, IEN said in a statement: “We stand by our relatives of the Oceti Sakowin and reaffirm their territorial rights set in the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. If the Corps wants to keep people safe and prevent further harm, then deny the easement, rescind the permit, order a full Environmental Impact Statement, and send Department of Justice observers.”
“This decision by the Army Corps and the United States is short-sighted and dangerous,” the statement read. “We have already seen critical injuries cased by the actions of a militarized law enforcement. We implore President Obama and the White House to take corrective measures and to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline once and for all.”
The group, along with Honor the Earth, the International Youth Council, and the Camp of the Sacred Stones, is planning a news conference for Saturday afternoon, which IEN will live-stream from its Facebook page.
Filmmaker Josh Fox, who has been outspoken in his opposition to the crude oil pipeline, called the Corps’ eviction notice “a major act of aggression against basic rights of peaceful assembly and protest in the U.S. and constitutes a violation of treaties as well as the U.S. constitution’s guaranteed right to protest and assemble.”
“Oceti Sakowin, the main camp for water protectors, is a beautiful self-organizing community,” Fox continued. “It stands as not only the main place for the protest movement to assemble and organize, but it also represents a major leap forward for our combined movements for the environment, Indigenous sovereignty, and real democracy in America. If the Army Corps tears down this protest camp hundreds more will spring up in its place. A crucial alliance between indigenous values, native sovereignty and environmental movements has been forged here. We expect that the Standing Rock movement will find new and creative ways to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline no matter what, and that the Standing Rock movement and its alliances will find many areas of common ground and protest. We will fight fracking. We will fight pipelines.”
This article was originally published at Common Dreams, and re-published at Deep Green Resistance News Service under a Creative Commons license.
Featured image: Dakota Access Pipeline Protest In North Dakota. Photo Credit: “No Dakota Access in Treaty Territory – Camp of the Sacred Stones”
By International lndian Treaty Council
Ft. Yates, North Dakota, United States: On Thursday, August 18, 2016 the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) jointly submitted an urgent action communication to four United Nations (UN) human rights Special Rapporteurs. It cited grave human rights and Treaty violations resulting from the construction of the Dakota Access crude oil pipeline in close proximity to the Standing Rock Reservation by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) stands in firm opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The pipeline would carry nearly half a billion barrels of crude oil a day, and would cross the Missouri River threatening the Tribe’s main water source and sacred places along its path including burials sites. The urgent communication was submitted to UN Special Rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders; the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; and Environment and Human Rights, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. It requests that they urge the United States to halt the human rights violations and uphold its human rights and Treaty obligations to the Standing Rock Tribe. It was also forwarded to key officials in the U.S. State Department, Department of Interior and the White House.
The urgent communication focuses on violations of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty and other International human rights standards to which the United States is obligated. It also cites actions against human rights defenders, including arrests and other forms of intimidation, violations of the human right to water, and lack of redress and response using domestic remedies. The submission noted that this action violates Article 32 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which affirms the obligation of States to obtain Indigenous Peoples’ free prior and informed consent before development projects affecting their lands, territories or other resources are carried out. The Lakota and Dakota, which includes the SRST, were part of the Sovereign Sioux Nation, which concluded the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty with the United States. The United States has legally-binding obligations based on this Treaty to obtain the Lakota and Dakota’s consent before activities are carried out on their Treaty lands.
The urgent communication also highlights environmental racism in violation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination Convention (ICERD) to which the US is legally obligated. It notes that the United States has permitted Energy Transfer to divert the pipeline’s route from near the mainly non-Indigenous population of Bismarck, ND to disproportionately impact the SRST.
A primary concern expressed by the Tribe is potential devastating effects on its primary water source. SRST Chairman Dave Archambault II, who was among those arrested and is also being sued by the company for obstructing the pipeline’s construction, stated on August 15th “I am here to advise anyone that will listen, that the Dakota Access Pipeline is harmful. It will not be just harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water in the Missouri River, which is the only clean and safe river tributary left in the United States.”
In response to the Tribe’s opposition, Dakota Access LLC, the developers of the $3.8 billion, four-state oil pipeline, has waged a concerted campaign to criminalize and intimidate Tribal leaders, Tribal members and their supporters who have consistently been peaceful and non-violent. The IITC and SRST are calling upon the UN Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders to call upon the United States to immediately cease all arrests and other forms of intimidation, drop any pending lawsuits, and ensure that all legal charges against these human and Treaty Rights defenders be lifted. The urgent action communication cited this case as an example of the criminalization of Indigenous human rights defenders around the world, as noted by various UN bodies.
Despite 28 arrests reported to date, the peaceful protesters have succeeded in temporarily halting the pipeline’s construction. A hearing is currently scheduled for next week in federal court to consider the Tribe’s request for an injunction. Construction has reportedly been halted until the hearing, providing an important initial victory for the Tribe and their supporters.
The joint urgent UN communication requests the intervention of these UN human rights mandate holders to call upon the United States to uphold its statutory, legal, Treaty and human rights obligations and impose an immediate and ongoing moratorium on all pipeline construction until the Treaty and human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, including their right to free prior and informed consent, can be ensured.
Editor’s note: for more current news on the Dakota Access Pipeline, see U.S. Government Bans Native American Tribe From Protesting On Their Own Land – Send In Police To Remove Protesters and Dalrymple signs emergency declaration to manage public safety at Dakota Access Pipeline protest near Cannon Ball
Omaha, NE – In solidarity with the ongoing fight against the Dakota Access pipeline, a group of Native and Non-native youth have organized a 500-mile spiritual relay run from Cannonball, ND to the district office of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in Omaha, NE. The run is titled “Run For Your Life: No DAPL.” It departed the Cannonball community on April 24th, 2016 and plans to arrive in Omaha on May 3rd, 2016. The intention of the run is to deliver an unified statement to the USACE in resistance to the oil pipeline that proposed to cross beneath sacred water needed for life. The runners will will also turn over a petition calling for a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be conducted on the Bakken pipeline.
The running group is currently in Lake Andes, SD and plans for one day of rest, departing for Santee, NE on Thursday, April 28th.The participating runners are comprised of concerned citizens from across North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.
For the past several months, Native and non-Native peoples in the Midwest have been battling the construction of the Dakota Access/Bakken pipeline, a project that will go from North Dakota into South Dakota, Iowa and southern Illinois. If constructed, this large-scale pipeline will cross the 12,000 year-old Missouri River, one of the largest water resources in the United States that supports millions of people with drinking and irrigation water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has stated that they will make the final decision on Dakota Access, LLC’s final permit needed to construct the Dakota Access/Bakken Pipeline no later than May 6th, 2016 .
Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), owned by Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., is proposed to transport 450,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude oil from the lands of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Dakota Access Pipeline is proposed to cross under the Missouri River twice, and poses as a threat to the sacred waters that the entire breadbasket of America depends on. The construction of Dakota Access will threaten everything from farming and drinking water to entire ecosystems, wildlife and food sources surrounding the Missouri.
The group asks that “Everyone stand with us against this threat to our health, our culture, and our sovereignty. We ask that everyone who lives on or near the Missouri River and its tributaries, everyone who farms or ranches in the local area, and everyone who cares about clean air and clean drinking water stand with us against the Dakota Access Pipeline!”
Dallas Goldtooth, Organizer with Indigenous Environmental Network, said: “We can not accept the risks an oil spill will cause upon the heartland of America. We cannot accept the trespassing across Oceti Sakowin lands by Big Oil. We cannot accept locking ourselves into more fossil fuels when Mother Earth demands us to leave fossil fuels in the ground. This Dakota Access pipeline is all risk, no reward. Simple as that.”
Follow the group’s Facebook page for run updates, and sign and share the group’s petition.