Slack Family Properties LLC has filed suit against Dakota Access, alleging that the company has broken its easement contract to fix drain tile and compensate the family for any losses imposed by running the Bakken oil pipeline across their farm.
The Slacks allege that Dakota Access has lied not just to them but to the Public Utilities Commission:
Last October, the PUC was alerted to the disconnected drain tile and flooded fields through an informal complaint. Dakota Access told the PUC it had repaired the problem, but the lawsuit said no repairs had taken place.
In this week’s corporate fascism file, Energy Transfer Partners is suing Greenpeace and other environmental groups who protested ETP’s Dakota Access pipeline. ETP portrays the diverse anti-pipeline forces as an “Enterprise” that conspired to spread false information about the pipeline and incite terrorism against it:
The Complaint, which is Index number 1:17-cv-00173, alleges that this group of co-conspirators (the “Enterprise”) manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer’s critical business and financial relationships. The Complaint also alleges that the Enterprise incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives. It further alleges claims that these actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes, defamation, and constituted defamation and tortious interference under North Dakota law [Energy Transfer Partners, press release, 2017.08.22].
The 1983 American Heritage Dictionary defined fascism as: “A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.”
Fascism originated in Italy, and Mussolini claims to have invented the word itself. It was actually his ghostwriter, Giovanni Gentile, who invented it and defined it in the Encyclopedia Italiana in this way: “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power” [“No Actually, This Is What a Fascist Looks Like,” TruthOut, 2013.01.18].
Estimates of dicamba’s damage, however, continue to increase. Since the Plant Board’s vote, the number of dicamba-related complaints in Arkansas has soared to 550. Reports of damage also are increasing in the neighboring states of Tennessee, Missouri and Mississippi. The total area of damaged soybean fields could reach 2 million acres.
“I’ve never seen anything even close to this,” says Larry Steckel, a weed specialist at the University of Tennessee. “We have drift issues every year in a handful of fields, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
…The problem is, dicamba doesn’t always stay where it’s supposed to. In hot weather, dicamba turns into a gas that apparently can drift for miles. And soybeans that haven’t been specifically engineered to tolerate dicamba are extremely sensitive to it.
According to Steckel, soybean farmers in western Tennessee are in one of two camps. Perhaps 60 percent of them are spraying dicamba, because they invested in Monsanto’s new dicamba-tolerant crops. The rest, with soybeans that are vulnerable, likely have seen some fields damaged [Dan Charles, “Damage from Wayward Weedkiller Keeps Growing,” NPR: Morning Edition, 2017.07.06].
As we know, fascism was eventually defeated in World War 2. But just before the end of the war, with the fascists on the ropes, the Vice President of the United States at the time, Henry Wallace, penned an op-ed for the New York Times warning Americans about the creeping dangers of fascism – or corporate government.
He defined a fascist as, “those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion” [TruthOut, 2013.07.06].
Citizens organize protests against a corporation’s environmentally risky project, and the corporation sues the protestors as racketeers. Farmers suffer real economic damage from another corporation’s product because they choose not to use that corporation’s products, and that corporation says, “Tough shiskey, knuckleheads,” and keeps driving toward monopoly.
How much did the South Dakota Highway Patrol spend in supporting state/corporate oppression of free speech at the Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota last fall and winter? $518,154.38, says SDHP spokesman Tony Mangan, an amount that has been fully reimbursed by the state of North Dakota. Mangan says our Highway Patrol expended 8,800 manhour and other resources making life harder for Americans who don’t support Energy Transfer Partners’ endangerment of our water.
Oil will continue to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline through the summer while authorities conduct additional review of the environmental impact, after a judge on Wednesday ordered more hearings in coming months.
…A lawyer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for environmental review, would not estimate when asked by Boasberg how long additional review would take. The judge could still order the line to be shut at a later date following a series of hearings scheduled through the summer [Pete Schroeder, “Oil to Keep Flowing in Dakota Line While Legal Battle Continues,” Reuters, 2017.06.22].
Construction of the $4.2 billion Rover natural gas line has caused seven industrial spills, polluted fragile Ohio wetlands and angered local farmers. The company owes $1.5 million in restitution after demolishing an historic house. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is furious and a federal energy regulator has launched a rare public investigation that threatens to delay the pipeline’s scheduled Nov. 1 completion.
“We’ve not seen a project in Ohio with spills at this size and scale, and if we can’t even trust Rover to construct this pipeline, how can we trust them to operate it when it’s complete?” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, executive director of the Ohio Environmental Council [Catherine Traywick, “The Company Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Has Another Big Problem in Ohio,” Bloomberg, 2017.06.22].
Noteworthy is ETP’s attitude toward rushing its work and taking care of its new neighbors:
Many farmers bristled at Energy Transfer’s attitude, said Matt Strayer, an attorney representing about 200 landowners that have easement agreements with the company. The tight timeline meant that paying for damage was preferable to preventing it, Strayer said.
“They’ll do what they want, and they don’t care who they step on to get there,” said Ben Polasek, an Ohio wheat farmer who owns five parcels on the pipeline’s path. “It’s all about how quickly they can get that pipe in the ground” [Traywick, 2017.06.22].
I’m so glad to have Energy Transfer Partners as a neighbor.
In particular, the Tribes believe that the Corps did not sufficiently consider the pipeline’s environmental effects before granting permits to Dakota Access to construct and operate DAPL under Lake Oahe, a federally regulated waterway. This volley meets with some degree of success. Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial [Judge James Boasberg, memorandum opinion, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, #1:16-cv-01534-JEB, 2017.06.14, p. 2].
But Energy Transfer Partners is already pumping oil through Dakota Access (though it still hasn’t raised prices for North Dakota Sweet crude the way it is expected to). What’s Energy Transfer Partners supposed to do, dig its pipeline up? The judge isn’t considering that option, but he is taking briefs from the litigants as he considers vacating the permit and closing the pipeline temporarily while the Army Corps goes back and does the environmental review correctly.
Hot off the Mac—the latest Dakota Free Press Podcast!
In lucky Episode #13, conservative blogger Ken Santema sits down with this liberal podcast to talk about his run for the Aberdeen school board.
But first, co-host Spencer Dobson and I discuss Trump’s budget war on Indians, Big Oil’s mercenary war on pipeline protestors, and the Koch Brothers’ war on democracy (with free pizza!). Then we hash out Billie Sutton’s status as a Blue Dog and newly declared candidate for Governor.
Below are resources for this week’s conversation. If you like what you hear, ring that Blog Tip Jarand help us fill the Internet with more great South Dakota podcasts!
Trump Budget Hates Indians (Noem not Helping) [01:43]
The Intercept has obtained internal documents showing that Energy Transfer Partners employed mercenary firm TigerSwan to surveil, infiltrate, and undermine Dakota Access pipeline protestors in North Dakota and all along the controversial pipeline’s route. The leaked documents also show local, state, and federal agencies coordinating their law enforcement effort with these private hired guns. This corporate fascism began under the Obama Administration.
According to The Intercept, TigerSwan gathered drone video surveillance and other evidence to aid law enforcement with arrests and prosecutions, expressed frustration when law enforcement gave protestors leeway, and pushed for “more punitive tactics” like quicker arrests and fines and higher bail.
Referring to pipeline protests as “insurgencies” and “attacks”, TigerSwan resorted to military-style counterterrorism tactics like infiltration and psychological warfare against civilians exercising their First Amendment rights:
The reports also reveal a widespread and sustained campaign of infiltration of protest camps and activist circles. Throughout the leaked documents, TigerSwan makes reference to its intelligence-gathering teams, which infiltrated protest camps and activist groups in various states. TigerSwan agents using false names and identities regularly sought to obtain the trust of protesters, which they used to gather information they reported back to their employer, according to the TigerSwan contractor.
…In an October 3 report, TigerSwan discusses how to use its knowledge of internal camp dynamics: “Exploitation of ongoing native versus non-native rifts, and tribal rifts between peaceful and violent elements is critical in our effort to delegitimize the anti-DAPL movement.” On February 19, TigerSwan makes explicit its plans to infiltrate a Chicago protest group. “TigerSwan collections team will make contact with event organizers to embed within the structure of the demonstration to develop a trusted agent status to be cultivated for future collection efforts,” the report notes, later repeating its intent to “covertly make contact with event organizers” [Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, and Alice Speri, “Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to ‘Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies’,” The Intercept, 2017.05.27].
TigerSwan ascribed to Energy Transfer Partners’ opponents “a strong religious component” and a “jihadist insurgency model.” In a September 22 situation report to ETP, TigerSwan pointed out the presence of Palestinians at a Mandan protest and raised concerns about “the movement’s involvement with Islamic individuals”:
TigerSwan’s subcontractor Silverton maintained three security teams, based in Aberdeen, DeSmet, and Sioux Falls, to conduct roving patrols along the Dakota Access route in South Dakota. TigerSwan tailed activists and journalists in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. The September 11 situation report notes that Silverton security personnel would stage for a protest in Sioux Falls on Monday, September 12. The November 5 situation report says, “Operations were conducted to intercept Gary Tomlin, a reported free-lance reporter in the South Dakota sector.”
TigerSwan also produced counter-propaganda for ETP:
In a report dated September 7, TigerSwan agents discuss the need for a “Social Engagement Plan.” On September 22, they discuss the development of an information operations campaign run by the company’s North Carolina-based intel team and Robert Rice, who without disclosing his TigerSwan affiliation posed as “Allen Rice” in a series of amateurish videos in which he provided commentary critical of the protests. The videos, posted on the Facebook pages “Defend Iowa” and “Netizens for Progress and Justice,” were removed after The Intercept contacted TigerSwan, Rice, and the pages’ administrators for comment. None responded [Brown et al., 2017.05 27].
As a bonus, TigerSwan appears to have lied to the state of North Dakota and operated illegally, without a license:
Records from the North Dakota Private Investigation and Security Board show that TigerSwan has operated without a license in North Dakota for the entirety of the pipeline security operation, claiming in a communication with the board, “We are doing management and IT consulting for our client and doing no security work.” In September, the licensing board learned about the company’s position as a Dakota Access contractor and wrote a letter to its North Carolina headquarters requesting that it submit a license application.
TigerSwan then did so, but the board denied the application on December 19. After James Reese wrote a letter objecting to the decision, the security board’s executive director responded on January 10 that “one reason for the denial concerns your failure to respond to the Board’s request for information as to TigerSwan’s and James Reese’s activities within the State of North Dakota.” Neither TigerSwan nor the board responded to questions regarding the current status of the company’s license [Brown et al., 2017.05 27].
The Intercept documents run through May, showing that even after the clearing out of the Standing Rock protest camp and the completion of pipeline construction, TigerSwan protects its profitable contract by playing up threats to ETP’s assets. Such is one of the dangers of these mercenary firms: their profit motive may drive them to encourage clients to believe they are in a constant state of war (this should sound familiar) and continue investing in private police-state efforts that infringe on citizens’ civil liberties.
Walsh said all the crude oil was recovered through absorbent materials and was contained in drums, then put back into the line. Dakota Access was responsible for cleaning up the spill, which it has done, he said.
The state will not fine or issue a citation against the company since the spill was reported and cleaned up within the required time frame, Walsh said.
The spilled crude oil, which is roughly equal to two barrels, is a very small amount compared to the 470,000 barrels of crude oil the pipeline is designed to carry in a day.
Two barrels isn’t much, but apparently this leak comes before Texas pipeliner Energy Transfer Partners fills the line starts pumping 470,000 barrels a day by June 1. Two barrels is also a trickle compared to the 4,800 barrels Energy Transfer Partners and its Dakota Access collaborators have spilled in the last couple years on other projects:
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, which is fighting a sister pipeline to Dakota Access there, together with Disastermap.net, studied 2015 and 2016 data from the National Response Center, the federal agency that tracks the discharge of oil, chemicals, and other pollutants into the environment.
Energy Transfer and Sunoco were involved in 69 incidents — including 35 pipeline accidents — over the two-year period, the analysis found. The accidents caused eight injuries and $300,000 in damage, the report found.
“It is a pretty sobering experience to go through these spreadsheets,” said Anne Rolfes, founding director of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, an environmental group. “To sift through all these pages really gives you an idea of the destruction” [Kevin Hardy, “Spills Plague Dakota Access Pipeline Builders, Environmental Groups Find,” Des Moines Register, 2017.02.06].
A December report from third-party inspector Keitu Engineers and Consultants Inc. identified 83 sites along the 380-mile (610-kilometer) pipeline corridor in North Dakota where trees might have been cleared in violation of the commission’s orders. The report by analyst Dean Mostad doesn’t estimate the number of trees involved.
Granado insisted to The Associated Press that ETP didn’t violate terms of its permit. Mike Futch, ETP’s pipeline project manager in North Dakota, said in a letter to commission attorney John Schuh in March that it’s possible the company cleared the disputed areas of trees before the company and commission agreed in June 2016 how large an area could be cleared. The company submitted its tree replacement plan in April.
That plan calls for two trees to be planted for every one that was removed — a total of about 94,000 trees — and for the company to inspect them annually for three years to monitor survival rates. The PSC must approve the plan.
A law firm representing numerous landowners on Monday filed a consultant’s report that contends ETP’s tree replacement plan includes far fewer species than were removed and that a “flawed approach” to soil work could result in trees “being planted and growing well for five or ten years, then dying” [Blake Nicholson, “Dakota Access Pipeline Developer Involved in Tree Dispute,” AP via Bismarck Tribune, 2017.05.05].
Condition #23: “If trees are to be removed that have commercial or other value to affected landowners, Dakota Access shall compensate the landowner for the fair market value of the trees to be cleared and/or allow the landowner the right to retain ownership of the felled trees.
Condition #37: “To facilitate periodic aerial patrol pipeline leak surveys during operation of the facilities: in wetland and riparian areas, a minimum corridor of 30 feet centered on the pipeline centerline (15 feet on either side), shall be maintained in an herbaceous state. Trees within the corridor greater than 15 feet in height may be selectively cut and removed from the permanent right-of-way.”
Captain Jason Gearman says a witness describes the suspect as a female. Gearman says she’s 5′-11” to 6′ tall, wearing all dark clothing, carrying a milk crate with what Gearman says could have torches and she was picked up by what looked like a silver, Ford Taurus with Iowa plates.
Gearman says a hole was cut into the fence surrounding that section of pipeline but there was no damage to the pipeline itself.
I won’t cover for pseudo-enviro anarchists any more than I’ll cover for pseudo-Nazi smart alecs. Casual vandals have far easier targets to attack than isolated rural pipeline facilities. Multiple incidents along the pipeline route further support the notion that Dakota Access is the target.
But does the scant evidence support singling out environmental activists as the only group named as possible suspects? Let’s consider other plausible suspects:
ISIS: They’re everywhere, right? Isn’t it about time they figure out that the Midwest is full of soft targets?
Saudi ISIS sympathizers: Wouldn’t the Saudis have a stake in hamstringing their North American competitors?
Dakota Access: The Minnehaha County incident involved nothing but fence cut in broad daylight (1:30 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office). Another incident in Wapello County, Iowa, left a cut fence and burn marks on the pipeline but no real damage to put the public or the flow of oil at risk. Serious enviro-nuts, terrorists, or industrial saboteurs would have brought the right tools (e.g., explosives, or a big wrench) at the right time (i.e., night) to do the job right without blowing themselves up (e.g., shooting a blow torch into flammable pressurized petroleum). Cosmetic damage that gins up law enforcement surveillance serves the corporate-police complex, not the activist world.
A six-foot-tall lady carrying a milk crate of tools toward a pipeline is certainly unusual and probably up to no good. But if police are going to ascribe her actions to any possible group with motive, they should be equal-opportunity finger pointers and discuss all of the possibilities.