north dakota politics


Even though most of the protesters fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota have left, hundreds still remain here atop what is essentially a sheet of ice.

One group of campers say there’s a change taking hold at camp, which was once overrun by thousands who felt a sense of excitement about the gathering.

Byron Shorty, who lives on the Navajo reservation in Arizona, says now that the Army Corps of Engineers is temporarily halting pipeline construction, the protest camp is calm.

“I want to be here to reflect, and I want to be here to help clean up our abandoned campsites that I still see,” he says. “And we’re in the process of cleaning those up and repurposing the things that people left behind.”

Dakota Pipeline Protesters, Nearby Residents Brace For 2017

Photos: Amy Sisk/Inside Energy
Trump administration withdrew memo that found 'ample legal justification' to halt Dakota Access pipeline
The legal opinion was withdrawn two days before an easement was approved.
By ABC News

Two days before the Trump administration approved an easement for the Dakota Access pipeline to cross a reservoir near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, the U.S. Department of the Interior withdrew a legal opinion that concluded there was “ample legal justification” to deny it.

The withdrawal of the opinion was revealed in court documents filed this week by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the same agency that requested the review late last year.

“A pattern is emerging with [the Trump] administration,” said Jan Hasselman, an attorney representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. “They take good, thoughtful work and then just throw it in the trash and do whatever they want to do.”

The 35-page legal analysis of the pipeline’s potential environmental risks and its impact on treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux and other indigenous tribes was authored in December by then-Interior Department Solicitor Hilary C. Tompkins, an Obama appointee who was – at the time – the top lawyer in the department.

“The government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Tribes calls for enhanced engagement and sensitivity to the Tribes’ concerns,” Tompkins wrote. “The Corps is accordingly justified should it choose to deny the proposed easement.”

Tompkins’ opinion was dated Dec. 4, the same day the Obama administration announced that it was denying an easement for the controversial crossing and initiating an environmental impact statement that would explore alternative routes for the pipeline. Tompkins did not respond to a request by ABC News to discuss her analysis or the decision made to withdraw it.

On his second weekday in office, President Donald Trump signed a memorandum that directed the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve” the pipeline in an expedited manner, to “the extent permitted by law, and as warranted, and with such conditions as are necessary or appropriate.” “I believe that construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest,” Trump wrote in the memo.

Two weeks later, the Corps issued the easement to Dakota Access and the environmental review was canceled.

The company behind the pipeline project now estimates that oil could be flowing in the pipeline as early as March 6.

The analysis by Tompkins includes a detailed review of the tribes’ hunting, fishing and water rights to Lake Oahe, the federally controlled reservoir where the final stretch of the pipeline is currently being installed, and concludes that the Corps “must consider the possible impacts” of the pipeline on those reserved rights.

“The Tompkins memo is potentially dispositive in the legal case,” Hasselman said. “It shows that the Army Corps [under the Obama administration] made the right decision by putting the brakes on this project until the Tribe’s treaty rights, and the risk of oil spills, was fully evaluated.”

Tompkins’ opinion was particularly critical of the Corps’ decision to reject another potential route for the pipeline that would have placed it just north of Bismarck, North Dakota, in part because of the pipeline’s proximity to municipal water supply wells.

“The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux Reservations are the permanent and irreplaceable homelands for the Tribes,” Tompkins wrote. “Their core identity and livelihood depend upon their relationship to the land and environment – unlike a resident of Bismarck, who could simply relocate if the [Dakota Access] pipeline fouled the municipal water supply, Tribal members do not have the luxury of moving away from an environmental disaster without also leaving their ancestral territory.”

Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, has said that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on local water supply are unfounded” and “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route.”

The decision to temporarily suspend Tompkins’ legal opinion two days before the easement was approved was outlined in a Feb. 6 internal memorandum issued by K. Jack Haugrud, the acting secretary of the Department of the Interior. A spokeswoman for the department told ABC News today that the opinion was suspended so that it could be reviewed by the department.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes are continuing their legal challenges to the pipeline. A motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard on Monday in federal court in Washington, D.C.

The Corps has maintained, throughout the litigation, that it made a good faith effort to meaningfully consult with the tribes.

The tribes contend, however, that the Trump administration’s cancellation of the environmental review and its reversal of prior agency decisions are “baldly illegal.”

“Agencies can’t simply disregard their own findings, and ‘withdrawing’ the Tompkins memo doesn’t change that,” Hasselman said. “We have challenged the legality of the Trump administration reversal and we think we have a strong case.”
'We Are Staying': Dakota Pipeline Protesters Not Moving Despite Eviction Order
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered protesters to leave by Dec. 5, citing concern over public safety amid high tension on the proposed development.
Revealed: FBI terrorism taskforce investigating Standing Rock activists
FBI representatives have contacted several ‘water protectors’, raising alarm that an indigenous-led movement is being construed as domestic terrorism
By Sam Levin

So in the Drumpf’s AmeriKKKa, peaceful water protectors are investigated as “terrorists,” while far right domestic white supremacist groups are removed from federal terrorist watch lists. (Even though far-right American extremists have committed more terrorist attacks on American soil than ANY other group.)
Showdown over oil pipeline becomes a national movement for Native Americans
Thousands from multiple tribes have traveled to North Dakota to oppose the project.

The simmering showdown here between the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the company building the Dakota Access crude-oil pipeline began as a legal battle.

It has turned into a movement.

Over the past few weeks, thousands of Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country have traveled to this central North Dakota reservation to camp in a nearby meadow and show solidarity with a tribe they think is once again receiving a raw deal at the hands of commercial interests and the U.S. government.

Frank White Bull, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, was overcome with emotion as he looked out over the ocean of brightly colored tepees and tents that have popped up on this impromptu 80-acre campground.

“You think no one is going to help,” said White Bull, 48. “But the people have shown us they’re here to help us. We made our stance, and the Indian Nation heard us. It’s making us whole. It’s making us wanyi oyate — one nation. We’re not alone.”

At issue for the tribes is the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL, which runs through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois and has a capacity to transport more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day. The $3.8 billion pipeline now under construction was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cross under the Missouri River a mile north of the reservation.

That river is the source of water for the reservation’s 8,000 residents. Any leak, tribal leaders argue, would cause immediate and irreparable harm. And tribal leaders point to what they consider a double standard, saying that the pipeline was originally going to cross the Missouri north of Bismarck, the state capital, but was rerouted because of powerful opposition that did not want a threat to the water supply there.

The tribe says it also is fighting the pipeline’s path because, even though it does not cross the reservation, it traverses sacred territory taken away from the tribe in a series of treaties that have been forced upon it over the past 150 years.

The reservation sued the Corps of Engineers in July, saying that the agency had not entered into any meaningful consultation with the tribe as required by law and that it had ignored federal regulations governing environmental standards and historic preservation.

Dean DePountis, the tribe’s attorney, said: “This pipeline is going through huge swaths of ancestral land. It would be like constructing a pipeline through Arlington Cemetery or under St. Patrick’s Cathedral.”

Continue Reading.

The truth is you, not me. If there is any person here, any person here that thinks I’m coming to you as some kind of savior, that I’m going to do it all — all myself, you’re wrong. No president, not Bernie Sanders or anybody else, can do it alone. We don’t need a savior. We need a political movement.

Bernie Sanders
Rally in North Dakota, 5/14/16
After protests, U.S. halts North Dakota pipeline near tribal lands
The Obama administration stepped into a dispute on Friday over a planned oil pipeline in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, appealing for calm while blocking construction on federal land and asking the company behind the project to suspend work nearby.

Not a full victory yet, but an important step.

Meanwhile, fossil-fuel-pushing, climate-chage-denying dinosaurs are pushing the old “manifest destiny arguments that their financial gain should trump native rights and environmental damage, and complaining about “job loss” if the pipeline doesn’t go through–even though they’ve blocked infrastructure and clean energy bills that would have created several times more jobs–and longer-lasting ones–than this pipeline.

This push for the pipeline kind of reminds me of when white prospectors found gold in the Black Hills, so the US government decided that gold for white people trumped native land rights.

Company reps are saying–get this–that they hope the administration bases their decision “on science.” Oh, the irony. If the decision is based on science, there will be no pipeline. Not now, not ever.

So yeah, I hope the decision is based on two things–science, of course, but just as importantly, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.

The doctrine of “Manifest Destiny” was evil when it was created, and it remains evil today.

Presidential Primary and Caucus Schedule for 2016

In 37 days, the first votes of the 2016 Presidential Election begin. Here’s the schedule for the primaries for 2016.

Some of the following dates may change. North Dakota’s political parties will eventually decide on their own schedule. Check for updates from time to time.

Monday, February 1
Iowa caucus

Tuesday, February 9
New Hampshire

Saturday, February 20
Nevada caucus (Democrats)
South Carolina (Republicans)

Tuesday, February 23
Nevada caucus (Republicans)

Saturday, February 27
South Carolina (Democrats)

Tuesday, March 1
Alaska (Republicans)
Colorado caucuses
Minnesota caucuses

Saturday, March 5
Kansas caucus
Kentucky caucuses (Republicans)
Nebraska caucuses (Democrats)

Tuesday, March 8
Hawaii caucuses (Republicans)
Idaho (Republicans)

Sunday, March 13
Puerto Rico (Republicans)

Tuesday, March 15
North Carolina

Tuesday, March 22

Saturday, March 26
Alaska caucuses (Democrats)
Hawaii caucuses (Democrats)
Washington caucuses (Democrats)

Tuesday, April 5

Tuesday, April 19
New York

Tuesday, April 26
Rhode Island

Tuesday, May 3

Tuesday, May 10
Nebraska (Republicans)
West Virginia

Tuesday, May 17
Kentucky (Democrats)

Sunday, June 5
Puerto Rico (Democrats)

Tuesday, June 7 California
New Jersey
New Mexico
South Dakota

Tuesday, June 14
District of Columbia

North Dakota