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Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith announced that the Tribe has submitted a 300-page report to the Army Corps of Engineers, which shows the potential impacts of an oil spill in the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline. The report, entitled Impacts of an Oil Spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, indicates that a spill in the Missouri River could be far worse than anything previously disclosed. According to the Tribe, in estimating the worst case scenario for an oil spill, Energy Transfer Partners, which owns and operates the pipeline
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Mike Faith announced that the Tribe has submitted a 300-page report to the Army Corps of Engineers, which shows the potential impacts of an oil spill in the Missouri River from the Dakota Access Pipeline. The report, entitled Impacts of an Oil Spill from the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, indicates that a spill in the Missouri River could be far worse than anything previously disclosed. According to the Tribe, in estimating the worst case scenario for an oil spill, Energy Transfer Partners, which owns and operates the pipeline, has failed to utilize oil industry best practices, and instead relies upon optimistic assumptions for shut-down and response times.
"There are many problems with the information ETP submitted to the Corps of Engineers on DAPL," Faith explained. "ETP estimates that 12,500 barrels of oil would be the worst case scenario, but that is based on a 9 minute shut down time. By looking at prior spills, we know that the true shutdown time is hours, and can even take days."
The Tribe's report documents the failure by ETP and the Corps of Engineers to adequately plan and disclose the methodology for calculating the worst case scenario, or even conduct a comprehensive analysis of the impact of a spill to the Missouri River for either a worst case discharge, or an undetectable leak. A smaller leak below detection levels could go one for a long time period, and seep into the ground water and ultimately the Missouri River, but this scenario has been totally ignored, according to Faith.
"The analysis relied upon by the Corps is based on rosy scenarios of quick response and shut down times, as well as good weather," stated Standing Rock Emergency Management Coordinator Elliot Ward. "We know from prior emergencies that winter weather is a real impediment to emergency response in North Dakota, but Energy Transfer Partners appears clueless. This is a real concern to our Tribe."
Landslide risks have also been ignored, according to Faith. The Tribe's report includes an analysis by experts at the South Dakota School of Mines, Dr. Perry H. Rahn and Dr. Arden D. Davis. According to Rahn and Davis, who are emeritus scholars, "The steep slope and unstable soils at the crossing have resulted in landslides in the past. Numerous landslides from previous slope failures have been mapped in the area."
Another concern to the Tribe is the potential impact that an oil spill would have on medicinal plants, which some Tribal members still gather and use for home remedies. The Tribe's report discusses the significant cultural impacts that an oil spill will have on the historic, traditional, and customary food gathering practices, which were already severely compromised by the Corps of Engineers' Pick-Sloan Project, created the Garrison and Oahe dams in the 1950s.
The Tribe is concerned with ETP's performance on other pipelines. On Wednesday, the Mariner East 1 Pipeline, operated by Energy Transfer Partners/Sunoco in Pennsylvania, was shut down by the state Public Utility Commission, over concerns with safety performance and pipeline integrity. Ohio regulators are also seeking penalties against ETP for the mishandling of waste fluid. The company's poor performance in other states is a significant concern to Standing Rock.
According to Faith, Energy Transfer Partners has failed to comply with federal requirements for DAPL. "ETP hasn't prepared a Spill Model as required by the Corps, and it is unclear if they have prepared a proper emergency plan. We haven't seen it, even though our community is most affected by an oil spill in the Missouri River."
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"Bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime," said one civil rights defender.
Rights advocates warned Wednesday that the arrests of three board members of an Atlanta-based bail fund could mark the beginning of a new era in the United States' treatment of peaceful protesters—one in which both demonstrators and those who support them are targeted by law enforcement.
Under the direction of the Republican state attorney general, Christopher Carr, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Atlanta Police Department carried out the arrests of Marlon Scott Kautz, Savannah Patterson, and Adele Maclean of the Atlanta Solidarity Fund (ASF).
The group offers financial support to people who have been arrested for protesting, including the dozens of people who have been detained for resisting the development of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, also known by critics as Cop City—a $90 million police training facility that would take up 85 acres of publicly-owned forest.
The three board members were charged with money laundering and charity fraud, leading state Rep. Saira Draper (D-90) to question the state's use of SWAT teams and helicopters to conduct the raid in a residential neighborhood.
"Peaceful protest is as American as apple pie," said Draper. "Using heavy handed tactics to suppress peaceful protest is shameful."
\u201cI don\u2019t know the specifics of the charges yet, but at this moment, SWAT and helicopters seem grossly excessive for arresting individuals accused of money laundering and \u201ccharity fraud.\u201d\n\nWhat I do know is weaponizing the powers of the state for political gain is abuse of power.\u201d— Rep. Saira Draper (@Rep. Saira Draper) 1685554334
Writer and historian William Horne denounced the arrests as "the behavior of a fascist police state."
Lauren Regan, executive director of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, told The Intercept on Wednesday that the ASF is "the first bail fund to be attacked in this way." The funds have been used for at least a century to pool together communities' financial resources to help bail people, including civil rights protesters, out of jail.
"There is absolutely not a scintilla of fact or evidence that anything illegal has ever transpired with regard to Atlanta fundraising for bail support," Regan said.
She added in a press statement that "bailing out protestors who exercise their constitutionally protected rights is simply not a crime."
"In fact, it is a historically grounded tradition in the very same social and political movements that the city of Atlanta prides itself on," she said. "Someone had to bail out civil rights activists in the 60's—I think we can all agree that community support isn't a crime."
Plans for Cop City garnered national attention earlier this year after Georgia state troopers killed a forest defender named Manuel Esteban Paez Terán, also known as Tortuguita, shooting him nearly 60 times.
Since Tortuguita's killing, nearly 30 people have been charged with domestic terrorism for allegedlydamaging property and trespassing while protesting Cop City.
More than 40 people in all are facing domestic terrorism charges, and three people charged with felonies have been placed in solitary confinement.
Civil rights attorney Alec Karakatsanis called the use of a "heavily militarized" police force to arrest three campaigners for alleged financial crimes "a bone-chilling development" that could have implications for the future of protesting in the United States.
\u201cTake a look at this. This logic, by the Republican Attorney General, would suggest that anyone donating to a bail fund or legal support charity is guilty of felony "terrorism" crimes. How liberal institutions react to this fascist abuse of power will be vital:\u201d— Alec Karakatsanis (@Alec Karakatsanis) 1685544745
Karakatsanis added that "everyone should be scared by" a statement made by Georgia's Republican governor, Brian Kemp, who said arrests were "a reminder that we will track down every member of a criminal organization, from violent foot soldiers to uncaring leaders."
"When three community organizers who help to run a bail fund are arrested with an entire SWAT team on clearly bogus financial charges, it signals that not only is it illegal to protest, it's also illegal to try and support people who have been criminalized for protesting," Hannah Riley, a writer and organizer, toldHuffPost. "If bail funds aren't safe, what's next?"
State Rep. Ruwa Romman (D-97) noted that the targeting of the ASF comes as people in the U.S. are increasingly relying on mutual aid to access reproductive care.
"Are we going to see attacks on abortion funds," she said to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "on bail funds, other types of funds that provide resources for those attempting to navigate our increasingly expensive and complicated legal system?"
"MAGA Republicans want to reach into our pockets and steal our earned Social Security and Medicare benefits," responded one advocacy group.
After securing a debt ceiling agreement that caps federal spending and threatens food aid for hundreds of thousands of poor adults, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy made clear Wednesday that Republicans are not finished targeting the nation's safety net programs—and signaled a coming effort by the GOP to slash Social Security and Medicare.
In a Fox News appearance ahead of the House's passage of the debt limit legislation, McCarthy (R-Calif.) said the measure is just "the first step" of the GOP's broader agenda, which includes further cuts to federal programs and massive tax breaks for the wealthy.
"This isn't the end. This doesn't solve all the problems," the Republican leader said of the House-passed bill, which would lift the debt ceiling until January 2025—setting up another potential standoff shortly after the 2024 elections.
McCarthy lamented that President Joe Biden "walled off" major components of the federal budget, including Social Security and Medicare, from cuts as part of the debt ceiling agreement—though McCarthy himself agreed to "take those off the table" in late January.
"The majority driver of the budget is mandatory spending. It's Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt," the Republican speaker said Wednesday, adding that he intends to announce a bipartisan "commission" to examine ways to cut such spending.
The progressive group Our Revolution responded that "it's never enough for the right wing."
"They want it all," the group wrote on Twitter. "We have to tell them NO."
Watch McCarthy's comments:
\u201cHouse Speaker Kevin McCarthy announces he is assembling \u201ca commission\u201d to look at potential cuts in entitlement programs:\n\n\u201cThe president walled off all the others. The majority driver of the budget is mandatory spending. It\u2019s Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt.\u201d\u201d— The Recount (@The Recount) 1685548097
The idea of forming a bipartisan commission to study and propose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other non-discretionary spending is hardly new.
In 2021, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) led a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers—including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.)—in unveiling legislation that would establish bipartisan panels to study and recommend changes to the nation's trust funds, a scheme modeled after the Obama-era Simpson-Bowles commission that recommended Social Security cuts.
The changes proposed by the so-called "rescue committees" would then receive expedited votes in the House and Senate.
Advocacy groups have described the Romney legislation, known as the TRUST Act, as an insidious ploy to cut Medicare and Social Security behind closed doors. Republicans have also proposed raising the Social Security retirement age, a move that would slash benefits across the board.
Social Security Works, which has been speaking out against the TRUST Act for years, said Wednesday that "MAGA Republicans want to reach into our pockets and steal our earned Social Security and Medicare benefits."
Jon Bauman, president of the Social Security Works PAC, urged the public to "beware the 'Problem Solvers' and 'No Labels'-style Democrats who would be willing to 'serve' on McCarthy's commission to cut your earned benefits."
"They are problem MAKERS," he wrote.
“We cannot continue to capitulate to a far-right Republican Party and their extreme demands while they inflict policy violence on working-class people, gut our bedrock environmental protections, and decimate our planet," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
Nearly 40 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus broke with the majority of their House Democratic colleagues late Wednesday to vote against the debt ceiling agreement negotiated by President Joe Biden and Republican leaders.
The legislation, which would lift the debt ceiling until January 2025 and enact painful caps on non-military federal spending, passed the GOP-controlled House by a vote of 314 to 117, with 165 Democrats joining 149 Republicans in supporting the measure.
The bill's passage came after weeks of talks between the White House—which repeatedly said it would not negotiate over the debt ceiling—and Republicans who manufactured the standoff to pursue austerity for low-income Americans, gifts for rich tax cheats, and handouts to the fossil fuel industry.
While Republicans didn't get anything close to what they called for in legislation they passed in late April, progressives who voted against the bill on Wednesday said the final agreement will harm vulnerable people and the planet by imposing new work requirements on aid recipients and approving the Mountain Valley Pipeline—a top priority of fossil fuel industry ally Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Progressives also raised alarm over a provision that would codify the end of the student loan payment pause, setting the stage for a disaster if the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down the Biden administration's debt cancellation plan.
"I cannot vote for a bill that guts key environmental protections and greenlights dirty fossil fuel projects for corporate polluters who are poisoning our communities, pushes our residents deeper into poverty by implementing cruel and ineffective work requirements for our low-income neighbors who rely on SNAP and TANF for food and housing, terminates the student loan payment pause, and slashes IRS funding to make it easier for the rich to cheat on their taxes," Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said in a statement.
"We cannot continue to capitulate to a far-right Republican Party and their extreme demands while they inflict policy violence on working-class people, gut our bedrock environmental protections, and decimate our planet," Tlaib added, referring to the bill's work requirements for food aid.
In total, 38 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) voted against the legislation:
Reps. Tlaib, Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.), Greg Casar (D-Texas), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.), Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Ro Khanna, (D-Calif.), Chuy García (D-(Ill.), Delia Ramirez (D-Ill.), Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Calif.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Nikema Williams (D-Ga.), Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D-N.Y.), Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.), Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.).
But the CPC members who joined Republicans in voting yes on the bill, including prominent progressive Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), outnumbered those who opposed it.
Jayapal, the CPC chair, said Wednesday that she could not in good conscience be part of the Republican Party's "extortion scheme" by voting for legislation that "rips food assistance away from poor people and disproportionately Black and brown women, pushes forward pro-corporate permitting policies and a pipeline in direct violation of the community's input, and claws back nearly 25% of the funding Democrats allocated for the IRS to go after wealthy tax cheats."
Bush, who represents St. Louis, added that "this agreement, whose worst elements are undoubtedly the fault of MAGA Republicans who shamefully took our economy hostage, pairs raising the debt limit with many policies that will harm our most vulnerable communities."
"I am disgusted with the chief hostage taker Kevin McCarthy and his MAGA insurrectionist conference for threatening economic catastrophe," said the Missouri Democrat. "For the good of our country, and to prevent the GOP from politicizing the debt ceiling to harm our communities moving forward, I believe we must eliminate the debt ceiling altogether."
The bill now heads to the Senate, where lawmakers are expected to act before the June 5 debt-limit deadline set by the Treasury Department.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lone Senate member of the CPC, announced ahead of Wednesday's House vote that he will oppose the legislation, calling it "a bill that takes vital nutrition assistance away from women, infants, children, and seniors while refusing to ask billionaires who have never had it so good to pay a penny more in taxes."
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the measure's new work requirements for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients would put nearly 750,000 low-income adults between the ages of 50 and 54 at risk of losing food aid.
"The fact of the matter is that this bill is totally unnecessary," Sanders said. "The president has the authority and the ability to eliminate the debt ceiling today by invoking the 14th Amendment. I look forward to the day when he exercises this authority and puts an end, once and for all, to the outrageous actions of the extreme right-wing to hold our entire economy hostage in order to get what they want."
This story has been corrected to include Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) on the list of no votes.