Friends of SEHN,
We’ve learned the hard way that many environmental struggles last a very long time. After the cameras have turned to other media stories and new issues arise, environmentalists are left suing, petitioning, carrying out direct actions, and monitoring damage. So many public health and environmental issues are long-term problems- we have to play the long-game.
A case in point: pipelines. Pipelines carry fossil fuels and threaten drinking water and, obviously, increase the likelihood of climate chaos. We try to block the pipeline from receiving permits and being granted eminent domain. But, under this current political regime, most pipelines are being approved. That means we have to monitor construction for violations of the law, bring legal challenges and be vigilant for leaks and spills. We have to have emergency response plans and make sure post-construction permit terms (like insurance) are in place.
We at SEHN are committed to helping coalitions and groups with these long, on-going struggles by sharing with them our scientific and technical support. I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you of a couple of on-going efforts to protect water, soil, climate and future generations. While they are no longer in the public eye, they are demanding fortitude and skill from activists—these are the places we bring SEHN’s particular expertise to bear.
The well-known pipeline, Dakota Access is one of those long-term, thorny issues. Our long-awaited day in court finally happened September 12th, 2018 when the Iowa Supreme Court heard the environmentalists and landowners’ challenge to the state permit given to Dakota Access for its crude oil pipeline. You may remember the large Indigenous resistance of water protectors at Standing Rock in 2016 that tried to block Dakota Access (DAPL) from crossing the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation.
You wouldn’t be alone if you thought Dakota Access was a done deal since it is up and running with crude oil flowing through it. In fact, the lawyers for DAPL made that exact argument in the Supreme Court and essentially said the Court should throw out the case. However, in rebuke, a justice replied that if they did declare the case moot, just because the pipeline was already established, we would never have justice for illegal acts.