united states department of the interior

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The legal opinion was withdrawn two days before an easement was approved.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.”

From 314 Action:
  • The administration is doubling down on its devastating 31% budget cut to the EPA – a level that’s nearly unchanged from Trump’s March proposal.
  • Medical research and disease prevention would be among the hardest hit. This proposal reduces funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $5.8 billion, nearly one-fifth of its budget. That includes a $1 billion cut to the National Cancer Institute.
  • The Department of Interior [which is, to quote Wikipedia, “responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native American, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, territorial affairs, and insular areas of the United States”] would be cut by nearly 11%.  The Army Corps of Engineers [to quote Wikipedia, “one of the world’s largest public engineering, design, and construction management agencies” and one “generally associated with dams, canals and flood protection in the United States“] would be slashed by 16%.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control, responsible for responding to disease outbreaks domestically and around the world, would face a $1.2 billion cut.

Let the House and the Senate know that this is unacceptable. They may listen out of pure self-interest, even if the Toddler won’t.

My comments to the Department of the Interior on trump’s executive order to “review” national monuments

I submitted two sets of comments today, one directed at Bears Ears National Monument, and other directed at the “California Desert Monuments” (Mojave Trails National Monument, the Sand to Snow National Monument and the Castle Mountains National Monument). Here’s the comments I submitted on Bears Ears. The one for the California Desert Monuments is almost the same.

My comments address our national monuments generally and, specifically, the Bears Ears National Monument.

National monuments designated by any President of the United States pursuant to the Antiquities Act of 1906 cannot be revoked by action of any subsequent President of the United States. Moreover, the boundaries of any such national monument cannot be adjusted by action of any subsequent President of the United States. The powers to revoke the designation of a national monument and to adjust the boundaries of any national monument, in either case created by a President pursuant to the Antiquities Act, is reserved to the United States Congress pursuant to the Property Clause (Article IV, Section 3, clause 2) of the United States Constitution. As a consequence, any actions taken by any agency of the United States, including the Department of the Interior acting through its Secretary, to enforce Executive Order 13792 is subject to legal challenge and reversal.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, in your request for comments, you specifically ask that those who wish to comment address several factors listed in your Notice, including “the effects of a designation on the available uses of designated Federal lands, including consideration of the multiple-use policy of section 102(a)(7) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.” Section 102(a)(7) of FLPMA provides, among other things, that “that management be on the basis of multiple use and sustained yield unless otherwise specified by law.” Each of the national monuments listed in your Notice was designated (or expanded) by actions of Presidents of the United States pursuant to the Antiquities Act since 1996 through 2017. Because of such, the suggestion that “multiple use and sustained yield” apply to such designated national monuments would be inapplicable because the uses permitted pursuant to declarations made under the Antiquities Act constitutes parameters of use “otherwise specified by law,” as required by Section 102(a)(7).

You also specifically request that comments address “such other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate.” The Secretary must take into consideration the positive economic impact on the local communities of the existence of any national monument, including moneys spent by visitors who range from a simple drive through the area to those who will intensely use the monument for outdoor recreational purposes. You know more than most that our federal properties used for conservation, preservation and recreational purposes support hundreds and thousand of jobs and generate billions of dollars of revenue, most of which for the benefit of the local community workers and entrepreneurs.

The designation by President Obama of the Bears Ears National Monument pursuant to the Antiquities Act was preceded by years of discussions, debates, planning, and community input and involvement. Prior to and during the periods of such planning, the cultural artifacts located within the boundaries of Bears Ears were being destroyed and stolen, and their continued existence and integrity were subject to the uncertainties resulting from the lack of care, oversight, stewardship, and protection. The management plan contemplated for the Bears Ears is a creative approach that calls upon coordination and cooperation among the Native American tribes and the other local and state residents, which could be a template in terms of the management of our federal land resources nationally. I am confident that the Bears Ears National Monument will become a significant destination for Americans and visitors to the US as more people learn about the Monument and become vested in its continued existence.

All our national monuments are worthy of our protection and continuation as a significant component of our American identity and heritage. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, the adult generations of Americans making decisions today have a moral duty and responsibility to our children and grandchildren, and to future generations of children, to hand to them, as we pass on, lands that tell them who they are and what their ancestors experienced, and an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of America.

In my “California Desert Monuments” comments, I simply substituted the following paragraph for the second to the last one above that addressed Bears Ears. Here’s the substituted paragraph:

The designation by President Obama of the Mojave Trails National Monument, the Sand to Snow National Monument and the Castle Mountains National Monument pursuant to the Antiquities Act was preceded by years of discussions, debates, planning, and community input and involvement. Such actions in fact commenced decades ago, in the years preceding the enactment of the California Desert Protection Act of 1994. Millions of dollars of private capital have been expended over the years to acquire and protect the areas within and adjacent to the boundaries of each of these California Desert Monuments, some of which were transferred to BLM and included within a Monument, or a unit of the National Park Service. The boundaries were developed and the uses of the lands within the Monuments established with the objective of excluding areas of potential mining, and in recognition of the interests of hunters and ranchers. Each of these Monuments is supported strongly and passionately not only by the residents of the communities in the areas of these monuments, but also by the visitors to the California deserts as they learn about the monuments and experience their beauty, conservation values, cultural heritage and the diversity of their ecological systems.


drilling for oil in the arctic and arctic ocean


rant of the day…..

it’s actually been quite awhile since I have had one :)

folks have no idea how both disgusted and discouraged I am now that this bullshit is starting up again. 

the department of the interior of the United States has estimated a SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT chance of one or more MAJOR spills if drilling for oil in the arctic proceeds.

in one portion of the arctic we have russia ….

 (putin with the help of exxon ) 

planning exploration for oil ( when sanctions are lifted ) and on another part of the arctic ocean we have the current USA administration signing executive orders to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

(Today’s executive order instructs the Department of the Interior to review locations for offshore oil and gas exploration and leasing that were put off limits by the Obama administration. That includes millions of acres in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans that Obama withdrew permanently from drilling in December 2016. The order also asks for a review of marine monuments and sanctuaries created in the past 10 years, and prohibits the creation of new ones, according to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke )

it is just really discouraging.

are people (and the oil industry)  really this stupid and this greedy?

don’t answer that. it was rhetorical plus I already sadly know the answer.

ask the folks who are still effected by the gulf of mexico oil spill disaster what it is like.  

now ask yourself how easy it will be to clean up a similar oil spill in the arctic ocean.

in subzero temperatures and in extreme conditions.

the arctic ocean and the arctic in general is a pretty fragile ecosystem.

AND, guess what else? it is essential to the health of the rest of the planet.

I stand with anyone in the world who realizes that oil exploration in the arctic is insanity.

leave it in the ground.

or in this case the ocean.

rant over. thanks 




56 million years ago, a pocket of cooling magma in the North American Plate crystalized into granite. The persistent pressure of the Pacific Plate slowly pushed that granite upward, and the sedimentary rock around it was stripped away by wind and water.

About 15,000 years ago, humans arrived in the region. A group of them stayed and became the Koyukon Athabaskan people.  They called the mountain Denali (“the high one”).

In 1867, US Secretary of State William Seward negotiated the purchase of the arctic peninsula that contained this mountain. He paid Russia $7.2 million. The peninsula was called Alaska after a native Aleut word.

In 1896, prospector and Princeton alumni William A. Dickey named the mountain McKinley after the governor of Ohio. Governor William McKinley was running for president, and he supported the use of gold (not silver) as the standard for currency. According to explorer Belmore Browne:

A few years ago I asked Mr. Dickey why he named the mountain McKinley, and he answered that while they were in the wilderness he and his partner fell in with two prospectors who were rabid champions of free silver, and that after listening to their arguments for many weary days, he retaliated by naming the mountain after the champion of the gold standard.

In 1901, President William McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist who had concealed a gun in his handkerchief.

In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson officially named the mountain Mt. McKinley. Most Alaskans and mountaineers still called it Denali.

In 1975, the Alaska Legislature officially requested that the United States Board on Geographic Names change the name of the mountain to Denali. Ohio senator Ralph Regula effectively blocked the name change for decades.

In 2009, Regula retired.

In 2015, the White House announced that Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will change the official name of the mountain to Denali. Here’s what some people said:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio):

There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy … I’m deeply disappointed in this decision.

Congressman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio):

This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Commitee on Natural Resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action.

Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio):

I’m disappointed with the Administration’s decision to change the name of Mt. McKinley in Alaska … This decision by the Administration is yet another example of the President going around Congress

Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska):

For generations, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as “the great one.” Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the president for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect and gratitude to the Athabaskan people of Alaska.

The re-naming kicks off Obama’s trip to Alaska, where he hopes to highlight the reality of climate change.

tl;dr - Geologic forces spent millions of years sculpting a mountain, and then humans spent 100 years arguing about what it should be called.


Views from America’s National Parks

The United States has 59 protected areas known as national parks that are operated by the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. National parks must be established by an act of the United States Congress.

The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Mackinac National Park in 1875 (decommissioned in 1895), and then Rock Creek Park (later merged into National Capital Parks), Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. The Organic Act of 1916 created the National Park Service “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Many current National Parks had been previously protected as National Monuments by the President under the Antiquities Act before being upgraded by Congress. Seven national parks (including six in Alaska) are paired with a National Preserve, areas with different levels of protection that are administered together but considered separate units and whose areas are not included in the figures below.

Photo credits: Jim Urquhart/Reuters (4), Phil Hawkins/Reuters, Charles Platiau/Reuters, Erin Whittaker/Reuters, Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

See more photos of national parks and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.

August 25, 1916 - US Government Creates the National Park Service

Pictured - This poster is one of a series created in the 30s and 40s to advertise the National Parks.

One of America’s finest institutions was born on August 25 as President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act, mandating a new governmental  organization, the National Park Service, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

Numerous national parks and monuments already existed in the United States, managed by the Department of the Interior or by wealthy conservationists, but no single unified agency.  Several, including Stephen Mather, J. Horace McFarland, and Teddy Roosevelt, had championed the campaign by penning articles the educations, ecological, and recreational benefits that would be created; McFarland became the NPS’s first director, working pro bono with a nominal salary of $1. 

Department of Interior Cancels Oil Leases On Sacred Tribal Lands In Montana
The end of the Reagan era deals is a victory for the Blackfeet Nation.

yo yo guys check this out

okay so here’s the skinny far as I could tell from the article:

  • Back in the 80s, under Reagan, a bunch of land in Montana was leased to major oil companies in case they wanted to develop there. This was done without consulting the local Blackfeet, who would not have okayed it because this land is sacred to them.
  • The land didn’t get developed, and the Department of the Interior has been slowly canceling the 47 leases. They whittled it down to 17, and 15 of those were held by one company, Devon Energy Corp.
  • So on Nov 16 the CEO of Devon Energy Corp sat down with Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the Interior, and with several leaders of the Blackfeet tribe, and signed away the leases. These 15 have now also been cancelled.
  • Said CEO says he did this because it was “simply the right thing to do.”
  • Devon Energy Corp: Not That Bad™
  • Trump and/or his shadow government hasn’t nominated a new Secretary of the Interior yet but the options include an oil executive and Sarah Palin. It’s not like they’re going to prioritize this.
  • So Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior, is pushing this to happen as fast as possible so the leases can be canceled before the year is up.
  • (she did not say this explicitly I’m reading between the lines here)
  • There are still two leases in place; the Dep. of the Interior says it has to track down the leaseholders before it can cancel those too.
  • Sally Jewell says she and her team have demonstrated “the right path forward” for whoever ends up as the next Secretary of the Interior.
  • She also said what’s happening in North Dakota is proof you’ve got to do these things right from the beginning, aka actually talk to the native tribes who live near your giant oil projects.
  • Sally Jewell: Knows What’s Up™
  • The chairman of the Blackfeet Nation called this “a victory for the people of Montana, it’s a victory for the people of the United States and the world.”

Santa at a WWII Internment Camp - Children of Japanese-American U.S. Soldiers - Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho - 1944


“In this photo provided by the War Relocation Authority, beneath their sage-brush Christmas tree, children of Japanese American soldiers now overseas are entertained by Seiichi Hara, USO chairman at the Minidoka Relocation Center, Hunt, Idaho, Dec. 18, 1944, who as Santa Claus brought them presents from their soldier fathers fighting in the United States army. (AP Photo/Interior Department War Relocation Authority)” Source: AP Images

anonymous asked:

Should Obama have gotten congressional approval for the McKinley-Denali name change

No. When it comes to place names, the agency responsible for them – the United States Board on Geographic Names is part of the Interior Department and answers to the President. For the most part, they let Congress have its way on naming places, but it’s ultimately a power that belongs to the Executive Branch.

This is really a ridiculous “controversy”. It’s basically only Ohio that is outraged by the name change; Alaskans – Democrats and Republicans – have been asking that the federal government officially restore the “Denali” name for decades. Like I said yesterday, this is one of the most blatant examples of cultural appropriation that you will ever find. It’s also one of the dumbest – it’s not like the mountain has been named after McKinley for hundreds of years; it was officially named “Mount McKinley” less than a hundred years ago! Also, THE MOUNTAIN ISN’T IN OHIO.

Demian DinéYazhi’
Untitled (For Anna Mae Aquash Pictou), 2013

– Printable poster 18"x 24" –

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, let us take a moment to honor the words and work of the late Mi'kmaq warrior Anna Mae Aquash Pictou, whose lifeline was shortened due to her brave and resilient spirit!

This poster was inspired by Anna Mae’s Aquash’s statement to the Court of South Dakota, made after her arrest and interrogation by the FBI regarding fellow activist Leonard Peltier, who was wanted tor the murder of two FBI agents. The FBI had arrested and interrogated Aquash a number of times throughout 1975, including one in which she was allegedly told she would not live out the year it she did not give up the information they wanted. Aquash claimed to have no information about Peltier. She was murdered in late 1975, and her body was discovered along a stretch of highway in South Dakota in February 1976.

About Anna Mae Aquash (March 27, 1945 – mid-December 1975):

Annie Mae Aquash (Mi'kmaq name Naguset Eask) was a Mi'kmaq activist from Nova Scotia, Canada, who became a member of the American Indian Movement, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, United States during the mid-1970s.

Aquash participated in the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties and occupation of the Department of Interior headquarters in Washington, DC; the Wounded Knee Incident in 1973; and armed occupations in Canada and Wisconsin in following years. On February 24, 1976, her body was found on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota; she was initially determined to have died from exposure but was found to have been executed by gunshot. Aquash was thirty years old at the time of her death.




Honolulu Star-Advertiser - June 29, 2014

The Native Hawaiian community on Molokai added its voice to the growing chorus of those who are rejecting a federal proposal that could lead to a formal U.S. relationship with a potential Native Hawaiian government.

More than 125 people attended a hearing at Kaunakakai Elementary School and the vast majority of the more than 40 people who testified offered a resounding repudiation of federal recognition.

“It has become painfully obvious from these hearings that those Hawaiian leaders who have called you here in hopes of protecting our entitlements and federal funding have done so without consulting their people,” declared veteran Molokai activist Walter Ritte. “The majority is in no mood to continue a subservient relationship with the United States.”

The hearing featured raised voices, anger and tears but, for the most part, audience members and speakers were courteous in contrast to last week’s O`ahu hearings, which were punctuated by intimidating testimony, boos and jeers.

The same relatively cordial tone was seen at Friday’s hearing on Lāna`i, where about 50 people attended and a handful testified primarily against federal recognition.

With Saturday’s hearing, the Department of the Interior panel has reached the halfway point of its two-week, 15-meeting Hawai`i tour in which it is asking whether the department should launch a rule-making process that could set the framework for re-establishing a government-to-government relationship with Native Hawaiians.

Eight more hearings remain in Hawai`i, starting Monday night on Kaua`i. Additional meetings will be held in Native American communities on the mainland, and the department will take written comments well into August….

…But many of those who did come to the hearing took the opportunity to vent, often angrily, about the 1893 overthrow of Queen Lili`uokalani, about stolen lands and injustices. Many said they didn’t want to settle for being an Indian tribe, and others said they were standing up on behalf of the deposed Hawaiian kingdom.

“I’m not an American,” Hanohano Naehu declared repeatedly. He then turned to the panel and said: “Shame on you guys for perpetuating the illegality. Shame on you for perpetuating the fraud.”

Kanoe Davis of Kaunakakai said Native Hawaiians need “clarity and truth” about the federal-recognition issue.

“How do we establish government-to-government when we are in fact supposed to be our own nation?” she said. “We’re settling for crumbs when we actually own the cookie.”

Many who testified described the process as rushed and pushed forward without allowing those affected to examine the issues and formulate opinions.

Lynn DeCoite, a third-generation Hawaiian homesteader, blasted the department for not doing enough to inform and educate the community.

“In my opinion, you have put the cart before the horse,” DeCoite said. “We should know the benefits beforehand and not create the government to find out the benefits later. It’s as if you, this department, has put a choke chain around our Hawaiian people. You guys keep us at arm’s length and try to use us as puppets.”

Sam Kealoha, a third-generation Army veteran, raised his voice in frustration: “The river of justice may be flowing (for tribes on the mainland) but the river from mauka to makai – the free flow of justice, there is no water.

"You guys are getting beat up on every island,” George Aiwohi told the panel. “But – you know what? – this is our chance to speak. We waited 121 years for this….”

anonymous asked:

If you became president, who would be in your cabinet? (It can be anyone dead or alive) In the positions you wouldn't abolish of course.

I was really excited to answer this ask I’m going off the official list off the White House website. I’ll be striking through positions I would eliminate. 

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