Saturday, December 17, 2016

6.7 - Update: Court delays ruling on Standing Rock

Update: Court delays ruling on Standing Rock

Next up, a couple of Updates and the first one is another case of taking your good news where you can find it because the news isn't all good.

Last week, in discussing the victory at Standing Rock, I mentioned that Energy Transfer Partners, the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline, were suing in federal court in Washington, DC, insisting that the court should order the Army Corps of Engineers to grant the easements the company desires. The good part of the Update is that on December 9, the judge in the case, James Boasberg, denied a motion by Energy Transfer Partners, or ETP, for an immediate ruling in the company's favor, preferring to order the company and the Army Corps of engineers to submit additional motions and pleadings by January 31, 2017.

What this means is the the court is prepared for a full hearing on the matter, meaning a decision would likely not be delivered for a couple of months or even more. As I said before, I know of no particular reason to just assume the decision, when it comes, will be a bad one, but the fact is, this is a case where delay is good, delay works to our benefit.

The bad part of the Update - and it is bad - is that NBC News is reporting that it wasn't actually the Corps of Engineers that turned away the application for easements. In fact, the Corps recommended granting the easements. But the agency was overruled by Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy.

The problem is, that position makes her a management-level "political appointee" whose tenure will end with the end of the Obama administration unless she is re-appointed by TheRump - and considering that he claims an intent to "bring back coal," he wants the CEO of Exxon-Mobil to be Secretary of State, and it turns out that Rick "Oops" Perry, his pick for Energy Secretary, is on the board of directors of ETP, that seems to put it mildly highly unlikely. With some new, more agreeable Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works in place, the decision to overrule the Corps could be undone within days and what's more, the Corps could go into Judge Boasberg's court on January 31 and say it is declining to offer a defense to ETP's suit, which could easily lead to a summary judgement in ETP's favor.

Now, that would not be the end of it because, as I said last week, the attempt to simply undo the decision to do more environmental review of the project would most certainly spark its own lawsuits, which could tie up the project for years.

So the news only emphasizes that the fight is not over - but I have to admit that nonetheless it brings a certain sense of discouragement, a sense for which there is only one cure: renewed people power. I look forward to seeing it, taking part as I can even though that is limited, and celebrating it wherever and whenever it happens.

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