Here is a nice piece from Indian County Today discussing this topic.
Here is a nice piece from Indian County Today discussing this topic.
If Trump had a doppelganger in history, it was probably Don Diego de Peñalosa, Governor of colonial New Mexico from 1661 to 1664. If history repeats itself, we may be able to learn something about our future.
Colonial New Mexico
By 1661, most of New Mexico had been under Spanish rule for several generations. The society was feudal, consisting of dozens of Pueblo communities representing the serf class, wealthy Spanish landlords, and the Spanish authorities, which included political rulers, a small army, and Catholic priests.
When Peñalosa was appointed Governor by the authorities in Mexico City, he was obsessed with his inauguration. As he journeyed north to Santa Fe, he expected nearby colonists to accompany him in a grand procession. In pueblo after pueblo, he demanded expensive receptions. When a priest failed to come out and greet him six miles from a town, Peñalosa was livid. Once in power, he demanded indigenous musicians, one from each pueblo rotating each week, to play for him while he dined.
Violating political norms and conflicts with the judiciary
His rule began with provocative executive orders and political appointments that pushed the bounds of established protocol. Checks and balances in colonial New Mexico mostly involved two branches of power: church and state. Peñalosa was in constant conflict with the priests, usually fighting over the use and taxation of Native labor. Each side wanted to exploit them. When a priest sought to re-build a church in Taos, Peñalosa appointed a Pueblo man that had murdered the previous priest as the new mayor and forbade construction of the church. When the clergy protested, he threatened them, saying he had secret authorization to kill them, though his claim was certainly false.
Early removal from power
Peñalosa’s turbulent reign came to an end over the issue of sanctuary. When he sent troops into a church to arrest a fugitive, the colony’s head priest threatened Peñalosa with ex-communication. Peñalosa responded by throwing this head priest in jail, an act unprecedented in New Mexico history. This would be akin to jailing the head of the Supreme Court. In this case, authorities in Mexico City intervened, Peñalosa was forced to resign, and was subject to a lengthy investigation that lasted years. The final verdict was all too poetic. Peñalosa was made to “walk bareheaded and barefooted through the streets of Mexico City carrying a lighted green candle as a symbol of repentance” (R. Silverberg, 1970, The Pueblo Revolt). He was then banished from the colonies and sent back to Spain. Demonstrating that he valued himself over his country, he offered his services to Spain’s enemies, England and France, to help them take over New Mexico and reinstall him as governor. He characterized the venture as a business partnership, with potential earnings based upon his own false report that continues to fool scholars even today. Neither England nor France were fooled, however, and both declined the offer.
Legacy of division and ultimate dissolution of the nation
Perhaps more troubling than Peñalosa’s reign is what happened in its wake. The colony fell apart. Peñalosa had so torn the fabric of political stability and accepted behavior that, among the Pueblo masses, acceptance of Spanish rule devolved into a total lack of trust. Sixteen years later the unthinkable happened. In one of the most complete and thorough revolutions ever seen in the New World (rivaled only by the Haitian slave revolution), the alienated Pueblo revolted. Literally every Spaniard was either killed or fled south of the Rio Grande.
Will the States still be united twenty years after Trump?
While there are plenty of differences between colonial New Mexico and the US in the 21st century, the stability of any societies depends on trust in political norms and practices, ranging from etiquette to respect for the rule of law. As a friend of mine likes to say, the US is a myth we all believe in simultaneously. It’s not a physical thing; it’s a social construct that depends on our faith and our participation in it.
As Trump tears at the fabric of trust and breaks political norms, all those things that rely on goodwill, rather than law or threat of force, become vulnerable. It began with impolitic and outrageous statements that slandered political opponents (e.g. Obama’s birth certificate or wire-tapping), offended our sensibilities (e.g. lampooning the disabled or bragging about sexual assault), and demonized minority groups (e.g. Mexicans and Muslims). Conventional wisdom was that he was unelectable. Trump’s administration has promoted previously unthinkable policies (e.g. banning thousands of foreign professionals and university students from certain Muslim countries, and defunding the National Endowments for the Arts and other valued institutions) and the rejections of past political agreements (e.g. Obama’s executive order on Environmental Justice to protect minority communities). While they are unprecedented, Trump can do many of these things legally.
Only two months into his administration, one wonders how much he will push the envelope of the rule of law. Will the checks and balances hold, or will the dam break? Trump’s self-identification with Andrew Jackson and the latter’s refusal to abide by Supreme Court rulings (specifically when it came to racial issues and ethnic cleansing) suggests the dam will be under pressure. Looking at a red/blue county map of the United States, those blue dots in the middle of the country that represent African-American communities in Kansas City and St. Louis (one of the key birthplaces of Black Lives Matter) and Indian reservations (that voted 90% Democratic and fought an oil pipeline) look like targets. The reservations are protected by treaties and law, but are certainly dependent on the continued goodwill of the federal government to sustain them. Will Trump, or a future Trump, make moves to abrogate the treaties, abolish Native sovereignty, and privatize the lands (thus replicating the Allotment Act of 1887)? Twenty years from now, in the face of unrelenting police brutality, continued shocking incarceration rates, unacceptable health care and public schools, and crushing debtor’s prisons, will there be another “great migration” of African-Americans from urban areas of red states to urban areas of blue states? Will Americans physically move north, south, east, and west to divide themselves into more red and more blue areas?
The 2016 election and voting trends suggest that, in future elections, debate over the issues will matter little. It’s already clear which districts are red and which are blue (over 90% of America’s counties were decided by double-digit percentage differences); the battle is simply over voter turnout.
The implications of this are severe. With each ensuing election, each side can put up extremist candidates and be assured of their party’s votes. Thanks to gerrymandering, the partisan rift has been widening at legislative level for several decades. The nomination of Trump is merely the first obvious example of an extremist candidate at the presidential level. Trump is thus not just a cause of division, but a symptom. In future elections, losing counties and states may wonder why they participate or why they should accept the results. While such a crisis would not likely lead to a massive Pueblo-style revolution, the red/blue divide could lead to disrupted or utterly unaccepted elections, political crises, or the secession of states. If the history of Peñalosa repeats itself, twenty years from now the rise and (presumably) fall of Trump could be merely the first chapter in the dissolution of the United States.
A great example (and there are many) of a tribe restoring our natural world.
For more than a decade the Yurok Tribe has been pushing to reintroduce the culturally significant bird to Northern California. Now, supported by scientific research and a host of agencies and organizations, a plan is taking shape.
The title of this blog post comes from Walter Echo-Hawk’s book, In the Courts of the Conqueror: The 10 Worst Indian Law Cases Ever Decided. Echo-Hawk (Pawnee) is an attorney and his book is a tour de force of US law vis-a-vis Native Americans, from the past to the present.
Perhaps a new chapter will be written on Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) v US Army Corp of Engineers (2017). Here’s the current status:
I could go into great detail on the deeply-flawed EA and deeply-flawed process, but most of that is covered in these two posts:
Below are my comments on the EIS. Although the process is closed, it was supposed to be open until Feb 20. And even though the website it down, they can still be emailed to:
Mr. Gib Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org ), Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108
I focused my comments on a couple topics I thought might not be mentioned by others: new information on pipeline risk and economic factors. Here they are:
To: Mr. Gib Owen (email@example.com )
Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works
108 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0108
From: Dr. Stephen C. Hampton
Date: February 15, 2017
Subject: NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing
Despite the withdrawal of the NOI on the EIS by the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), I submit these comments in the hope that a judge will require them to be considered.
The NOI describes several areas of inquiry for the EIS. These include (1) Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River; (2) Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill, and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intakes, and the Tribe’s water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights; and (3) Information on the extent and location of the Tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe. The NOI also states the “range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice.”
The list above seems to address the perceived gross injustices associated with the EA—that 1) route alternatives were considered and a preferred alternative chosen before the affected tribes were consulted; and 2) that no formal tribal consultation between the USACE and affected tribes occurred, and certainly none prior to the consideration of route alternatives.
I have one comment on the current list of issues, and further make one recommendation to expand the list of issues.
CURRENT ISSUES: RISK ANALYSIS
An analysis of the risk of oil spill from a pipeline should include an examination of recent pipeline spills, some since the EA was conducted. At a minimum, these should include:
- January 25, 2017, Worth County, Iowa, pipeline break, 138,000 gallons spilled
- December 5, 2016, near Belfield, North Dakota, pipeline break into Ash Coulee Creek (tributary of Missouri River), 200,000 gallons spilled
- May 19, 2015, Plains All-American pipeline break near Refugio State Beach, California where external corrosion was a factor.
- January 18, 2015, near Glendive, Montana, pipeline break into Yellowstone River (largest tributary of Missouri River), 50,000 gallons spilled
- July 1, 2011, near Laurel, Montana, pipeline break into Yellowstone River, 63,000 gallons spilled.
The pipeline risk analysis should also consider the report authored by Richard B. Kuprewicz, which is available here:
and this paper:
Brody, Thomas M., P. Di Blanca, J. Krysa. 2012. Analysis of inland crude oil spill threats, vulnerabilities, and emergency response in the Midwest United States. Risk Analysis, Vol. 32, No. 10: 1741-1749.
ADDITIONAL ISSUE: ECONOMIC IMPACTS
The EA seems to make the assumption that no other pipelines exist to carry Bakken production out of North Dakota and that, should the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) not be constructed, all 570,000 bpd of its capacity would be transported by rail, at risk to minority and low-income communities along rail corridors, and at the cost of displacing the transport of agricultural products by rail.
Specifically, the EA states: “There is the potential for daily production in excess of 570,000 barrels per day in the Bakken and Three Forks production area, but there is no existing pipeline infrastructure sufficient to transport that volume of crude oil from North Dakota to the refineries.”
This is false on all counts. Bakken production is about 900,000 barrels per day (bdp); it was over 1 million bpd when the EA was written. There are six pre-existing pipelines transporting oil out of North Dakota, with a total capacity of 767,000 bpd. Add to that two local refineries with a total capacity of 88,000 bpd, and there is a total “take-away capacity” to handle 855,000 bpd of Bakken production, which is just shy of current production, which is declining. See figure below.
This data suggests that 1) the economic premise behind many of the rationale in the EA are not true now, and some never were; 2) DAPL is essentially not needed, as nearly all existing production fits within current pre-existing pipelines; 3) DAPL may simply steal market share from these pre-existing pipelines, causing adverse economic impacts in some areas and possibly consolidate market power in ways that violate anti-trust laws. Given US government projections that the price of oil will remain low thru 2025, this economic situation is likely to persist. These economic impacts should be further evaluated in an EIS.
It’s time to comment on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The deadline is February 20. Here’s what you need to know.
First, Trump’s “executive order” did not automatically approve the pipeline (and it’s actually just a memo to the Army). More on that below. First and foremost, the EIS process is still alive.
The EIS Process
The EIS process is a long one, taking many months (and often years). This is just the first public comment opportunity, focusing on what issues should be studied. Here is how it is supposed to work:
The EIS is done by the permitting agency, in this case the US Army Corp of Engineers. Here’s what’s involved with each step:
This notice opens the public scoping phase and invites interested parties to identify potential issues, concerns, and reasonable alternatives that should be considered in an EIS.
Consistent with CEQ’s NEPA implementing regulations, an EIS will analyze, at a minimum:
(1) Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River;
(2) Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill, and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intakes, and the Tribe’s water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights; and
(3) Information on the extent and location of the Tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe.
The range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice and at public scoping meetings.
Important DAPL Documents
Here are documents that everyone should be aware of:
Note that all of these arguments are now irrelevant because Bakken production has declined to the point where nearly all production fits inside pre-existing pipelines. The price of oil is expected to stay low thru 2024. In the meantime, production from West Texas is flooding world markets and lowering the price of oil.
Commenting on the NOI for the EIS
The question posed by this EIS is: Where shall it cross the river? But the main question posed by the NOI, which we are commenting on now, is: What issues should we consider?
If you make an emotional plea against the pipeline, they will disregard your comment. You must provide constructive suggestions for what issues they should study. Ideally, you justify your suggestion with new data that was not available during the EA.
They’ve already started with three issues they say are already on their list:
With respect to 1), there are obviously hundreds of places to cross the river. The only other site under consideration, the North Bismarck route, was rejected by the EA for a variety of reasons, foremost of which was the threat to Bismarck’s water supply. Obviously, any review of alternative locations should include an evaluation of threats to all water supplies, and Environmental Justice considerations should not be ignored.
With respect to 2), new data on oil spill risk is created with each new spill. Here are some relevant ones, large spills in the region, most of which have been along Missouri River tributaries (with links to the latest news about them):
This discussion of spill risk might also be another good starting place.
With respect to 3), I’ll defer to SRST to answer that.
Finally, they ask for additional issues or alternatives. I’m going to raise the issue of economic impacts on the other six pre-existing pipelines and potential loss of jobs associated with those. Should DAPL be built, it could essentially steal the oil from four of the other six pipelines, resulting in job losses associated with those pipelines. The fact is that, with Bakken production declining, DAPL is not needed. This can only be addressed via a no-pipeline/”no action” alternative. DAPL only creates more river-crossings and risk. Thus, a no-pipeline/”no action” alternative should acknowledge the reality of the pre-existing pipelines.
I will post my official comments in a few days.
[Everybody check out the links in the comments section. There’s some good stuff there.]
You may mail or hand deliver written comments to Mr. Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, 108 Army Pentagon, Washington, DC 20310-0108. Advance arrangements will need to be made to hand deliver comments. Please include your name, return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” on the first page of your written comments. Comments may also be submitted via email to Mr. Gib Owen, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If emailing comments, please use “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” as the subject of your email.
The cultural divide between Red and Blue will grow stronger and more distinct. Gerrymandering has already polarized the political arena over the past twenty years. This has framed the public debate into two choices: left and right. With social media, each side increasingly lives in self-defined echo chambers, with separate circles of friends, memes, videos, hashtags, and news. Even television shows cater to two different populations. Dialogue and political compromise will decrease. Trump, with his bombastic language and demonization of various people groups, will only exacerbate this.
When violence is used by the Red camp, most often it will be by increasingly-militarized law enforcement (possibly including the US military). It will be primarily directed against marginalized Blue supporters (e.g. People of Color, not White Liberals). The legal system will be one of their weapons, enabling them to act with impunity. These will essentially be proxy wars, similar to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Standing Rock.
Back in December, I detailed how the law enforcement at Standing Rock is coming from the reddest counties in the nation, and that they are using the conflict as an opportunity to test their new US military equipment. Now it seems they’ve brought a missile launcher and machine gun, which are aimed at the camps.
Specifically, it’s an Avenger AN/TWQ-1 Air Defense System. It includes 8 Stinger surface-to-air missiles, which, according to Wikipedia, can be used against cruise missiles, drones, planes, and helicopters. It is unlikely they could detect a small recreational drone like the kind used by Digital Smoke Signals and other water protectors. The unit also includes a .50 caliber machine gun that can shoot 950 to 1200 rounds per minute. The machine gun can be fired from the turret or remotely from the drivers cab. What a local or even state law enforcement agency is doing with this kind of weapon is beyond me– and what they are thinking about its use at Standing Rock is mind-boggling. The only other nations where this kind of weapon is pointed at its own people are Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.
Here is a test launch, which comes at 0:51 of the video.
The use of a military weapon like this in a domestic context is nearly unprecedented. Probably the last time a similar weapon was used domestically were the Hotchkiss M1875 mountain guns unleashed on the peaceful camp of Big Foot at Wounded Knee in 1890, resulting in the massacre of 200 to 300 unarmed people, mostly elders, women, and children. After the massacre, the soldier posed next to their cannons. On the photo was this caption:
“Famous Battery K of the 1st Artillery. These brave men and the Hotchkiss guns that Big Foot’s Indians thought were toys, together with the Fighting 7th what’s left of Gen. Custer’s boys, sent 200 Indians to that heaven which the ghost dancer enjoys. This checked the Indian noise…”
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