“The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me.”
— Leviticus 25:23 (“Handbook of the Priests”)
Even before his 2004 book “Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and His Corporate Pals Plundering the Country and Hijacking Our Democracy” was published, the “mainstream” corporate media had begun blacklisting Robert Kennedy, Jr. This was not limited to the shows on Fox News; it included CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CNN, and CBS. Thus, in the age of pipelines for gas and oil fracking, the general public has not had the opportunity to view input from the nation’s top environmental attorney.
Thank goodness for the internet. For those interested in Robert’s insights on the Standing Rock Sioux’s struggle against the DAPL, they can go to “You Tube,” to see segments such as his recent appearance on Thom Hartmann’s show. Let’s consider some of the important points that Robert has made on Thom’s show, and others, since his recent visit to Standing Rock.
First, while it is good to contact the White House et al to express opposition to the DAPL, it is better to identify the appropriate federal law that President Obama can enforce to do so. Corporations are mandated by federal law to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for projects that changes in federal lands. The EIS would then be open to the public to read and respond to. It would have to identify things ranging from sensitive cultural sites that could be damaged; the archaeological record within the project area; the potential for creating domestic employment; in the case of a pipeline, who will be buying the gas/oil; and the identities of those benefiting financially from the proposed project.
Energy Transfers, the group behind the DAPL, has already violated this federal law, by substituting the short form Nation-Wide Project 12 for its EIS. The NWP 12 exemption for an EIS is for projects that involve less than one acre of property, and pose no risks to the environment. The DAPL is 1,700 miles long. Hence, Energy Transfer opted to pretend that it was simply a series of less-than-an-acre projects that pose no risk to the environment.
Thus far, obviously, those in the federal government who are tasked with protecting the public interest by enforcing the law have not been doing their jobs. The truth is that President Obama could demand that Energy Transfer conduct the EIS according to federal law; more, when Donald Trump takes office — and Trump has $2 million invested in the DAPL — he could not legally rescind the lawful requirement for an EIS.
The benefits to having the EIS are, quite simply, that it would put an end to the DAPL. First, when the public could see what the project actually entails, there would be an even larger call to halt it immediately. Again, it will not create many jobs for Americans. It is 100% sure that the pipeline will have “accidents;” these accidents will involve crude oil — which, until recently, could not be transferred in this manner due to the environmental hazards it poses; it is to provide “energy” exclusively to China (not a single gallon to our country); only a small handful of billionaires will reap the financial benefits; and US citizens will pay the costs for all of the damage it causes.
Second, the EIS will provide the evidence that the Standing Rock Sioux will require for an attorney — say, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. — to win in federal court, right up to and including at the US Supreme Court. It is actually not a complicated case: the laws are clear. Indeed, the Sioux and the 300 other Native American tribes supporting their effort are aware of this key to victory.
Robert notes that the Native Americans are profoundly aware that their struggle is not only for their benefit: they are serving as Water Protectors for all Americans, and all of the people around the globe. They need our help, and we need their’s.
The energy corporations and their lap dogs in Washington (and the corporate media) are relying on scaring the public with cries of “national security!” Yet, as Robert points out, the Pentagon and NSA have released the results of a joint study that identifies damage to the environment/ climate change as the single most pressing national security risk that confronts us.
In spite of this, in response to citizens attempting to exercise their Amendment 1 rights — to protect the safety of water that 18 million Americans “downstream” from the pipeline rely upon, and literally the largest agricultural region on the earth — the state government has unleashed militarized police to attack them. The police, and corporate mercenaries, are assaulting peaceful, law-abiding citizens, to protect the investments of a few billionaires.
We need to apply maximum pressure on President Obama to do the right thing. After all, it is the law.