Letter to the Editor: Deny Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion
By Lisa DeVille
Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara
Dec. 5, 2019
Thank you North Dakota Public Service Commission Chairman Brian Kroshus for respecting the desires of the nearly 20,000 people who requested a hearing on the proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline. I write today to ask you to deny that expansion. At its current flow rate, this pipeline has already leaked at least 11 times. Any additional pressure on the Dakota Access pipeline should be fully vetted. As of now, federal regulators say they don’t have data showing that expansion of pipeline capacity is safe.
Drinking water for our small rural tribal community, Mandaree, has already been contaminated by nearby toxic pipeline spills. Several major pipeline spills have occurred that have polluted and damaged our lands and our drinking water. No other community should have to face the consequences of pipeline spills. I oppose the DAPL expansion because it is 7 miles west of Mandaree on the Fort Berthold Reservation, passing over the Little Missouri River. Expansion puts this historic river at risk of contamination if spills were to leak into the reservoir where my family and rest of the MHA Nation get our drinking water.
Chairman Kroshus campaigned on a platform of managing “resources in a responsible way,” and balancing economic growth with “sound environmental stewardship.” Today the Chairman has the opportunity to follow through on that commitment and take a hard look at whether the minimal economic benefit provided by the pipeline expansion is worth the significant increase in risk of a catastrophic failure and leak. I urge Chairman Kroshus to vote NO on the proposal to double DAPL’s oil flow.
Mandaree, North Dakota
December 5, 2019
Brian Kroshus, Chairman
North Dakota Public Service Commission
Thank you for respecting the desires of the nearly 20,000 people who sent you messages three months ago requesting a hearing on the proposed expansion of the Dakota Access pipeline. I write today to ask you to deny that expansion. By doing so, you can demonstrate your concern for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose intervention in this process signals its desire to prevent further danger to its ancestral lands and sole source of drinking water. Millions of others downstream, in addition to Standing Rock tribal members, also face danger.
The US Government has irresponsibly expedited extraction and development on Tribal and Federal lands. This has happened on many reservations in the United States including my home, the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Consultation with tribes is vitally important because there is a limited understanding of tribal ways of life and culture. Our tribal nations all differ and should be treated on a case by case basis.
This pipeline and any other pipeline poses a very serious threat of injury to the environment and social conditions of the inhabitants in North Dakota and the Great Plains. With regards to the environment, there have already been several significant spills in the Great Plains region that have devastated the lands and water. One devastating spill was in the Yellowstone River and Bear Den Bay, which is the source of drinking water for the people of Glendive, Montana and Fort Berthold Reservation. Many poisonous toxins also spilled into the Yellowstone River including benzene. One of the reasons why I oppose DAPL expansion is that it is 7 miles west of Mandaree, on the Fort Berthold Reservation, putting the historic Little Missouri River at risk of contamination if spills were to leak into the reservoir where we get our drinking water.
Dr. Avner Vengosh and PhD students and researchers from Duke University discussed their research, study and testing results/findings on the brine spills in North Dakota that included the one million gallon brine spill north of Mandaree, ND (Bear Den) on Fort Berthold. Dr, Avner Vengosh and PhD students/researchers had taken the one million gallon brine spill samples on July 17 and 18, 2015. The results/findings are not good, the soil is contaminated which can never be remediated and the standing brine fluid is toxic.
I would remind the Commission that, at its current flow rate, this pipeline has already leaked at least 11 times. Any additional pressure on the Dakota Access pipeline should be fully vetted. Indeed, U.S. regulators say they don’t have data showing that expansion of pipeline capacity is safe; we have only talking points from the oil industry to rely upon.
Moreover, the threat to water is just one downside of this expansion plan. Doubling DAPL’s flow would lead to more than 97 million additional tons of carbon being emitted into the atmosphere each year. At a time when 97% of scientists agree that climate change represents an existential threat to the entire planet, we should be shifting to reliance on renewable energy, not expanding dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
The Commission would be showing a blatant disregard for public health and safety should it greenlight this project without requiring detailed environmental impact and leak safety studies. Please listen to tribal citizens, respect your constituents, and VOTE NO on doubling DAPL’s oil flow.
Mandaree, North Dakota
Ft. Berthold Protectors of Water and Earth Rights