President Trump Overhauls the National Environmental Policy Act

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Maxwell Bernstein | July 17, 2020

President Trump overhauled the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in an announcement in Atlanta on Wednesday to speed up permitting of federal infrastructure programs, according to the Associated Press.

NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the harm done to air, land, water, and wildlife and allows for public review and input when it comes to environmental effects on communities affected by federal infrastructure projects.

Critics say that limiting NEPA will contribute to climate change and will silence predominantly minority communities impacted by federal projects; over 1-million African American’s living within half-mile of natural gas facilities face higher risks of cancer from emitted toxins.

This move comes after district courts ordered for the Dakota Access Pipeline to be emptied to let the Army Corps of Engineers conduct an environmental review, as reported by Iowa Environmental Focus. While this does not have any effect on the shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it will create environmental consequences for future projects to come. 

Environmental Impact Review of the Dakota Access Pipeline is a Victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

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Maxwell Bernstein | July 8, 2020

Since 2016, protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline have ensued because of its less-than a mile proximity to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation, which sits on the North and South Dakota borders, according to ABC News. The pipeline could potentially spill oil into the nearby Missouri River, which the Tribe relies on for fishing, clean water, and water ceremonies. 

A district court ordered for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to be emptied of oil by Aug. 5 in order to let the Army Corps of Engineers conduct an environmental impact review, which is a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation, as reported by The New York Times and Iowa Environmental Focus

The 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline is an underground pipeline that was initially rejected by the Obama administration in 2016, but has transported oil since 2017, according to The Guardian. The pipeline starts from North Dakota where it travels through South Dakota and Iowa and ends up in Illinois. 

James E. Boasberg, the federal judge of the District Court for the District of Columbia, ruled that the pipeline’s construction fell short of environmental standards, according to the BBC. The pipeline could potentially continue operations after the Army Corp of Engineer’s environmental impact review is completed. 

Earthjustice, the non-profit that represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, called this environmental impact review a victory for the Tribe, the organization said in a public statement

“The shutdown will remain in place pending completion of a full environmental review, which normally takes several years, and the issuance of new permits. It may be up to a new administration to make final permitting decisions,” Earthjustice said. 

This comes after the Trump administration’s attempts to ease the way for business by enacting changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the law that has since 1970 assessed environmental effects of public projects, according to the Associated Press

Dakota Access Pipeline to double its oil under Iowa

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The path of the Dakota Access Pipeline (via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

Julia Poska | March 30, 2020

Oil flowing under Iowa through the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline will soon double, as permitted by the Iowa Utilities Board Friday.

Where there were previously 550,000 barrels of oil daily, there will be 1.1 million barrels,  according to the Des Moines Register.  The Register reported that the state determined risk of increased spill probability or volume to be low.

The Dakota Access Pipeline, which carries oil from the Dakotas to Illinois, was heavily protested in 2016 and 2017 by the Standing Rock Sioux and allies. Critics feared that the pipeline, which passes under the Missouri River, would contaminate water supplies on the Standing Rock Reservation.

The Iowa Utilities Board order occurred two days after a federal judge on Wednesday ordered a major environmental review of the Dakota Access Pipeline to more thoroughly assess risk of environmental contamination.