Thursday, June 14, 2018

Trump Organization sandbagging environmental projects in Dakotas


Yesterday the earth hater-led US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on oversight of the Army Corps’ regulation of surplus water and the role of states’ rights.

The City of Pierre has been denied access to surplus water from the Missouri River after a former Republican governor and the state sued the Corps for 2011 flooding. The suit forces We the People to pay for the clean up of a century of mine tailings and organic effluent that have saturated the banks of the Belle Fourche/Cheyenne River system depositing many tons of toxic silt into Lake Oahe and the other downstream dams after 1962. Sediment from decades of industrial agriculture would make up half of Lewis and Clark Lake's capacity by 2045 according the Corps.

More silt means less hydropower. In 2013 crews removed an estimated 34,000 cubic yards of toxic sediment accumulated over 45 years from a portion of the channel in front of the emergency spillway structure for Oahe Dam. That's remediation of surplus water and not simply greenwashing a century of abuses perpetrated by the extractive and agriculture industries.

Rivers often disperse the extra sediment from behind a dam within weeks or months of dam removal. Removal of the Fort Edward Dam on New York’s Hudson River released so much contaminated sediment that the river was later named a Superfund site. A similar fate would befall the Missouri River if dams were not dredged before being decertified; but, migratory fish would recolonize newly accessible habitat within a matter of days.

Last year a US District Court ordered the US Army Corps of Engineers to finish a review of the Dakota Excess pipeline's impact on tribal interests and how a spill under the Oahe Dam would impact water rights for the Standing Rock, Cheyenne, Yankton and Oglala Lakota nations.

Justice Department attorney Matthew Marinelli said in a status report to Judge James Boasberg the Corps has met with representatives of each tribe and has made progress on their concerns. Standing Rock still isn't satisfied and the Cheyenne River Tribe has created a website to raise funding and awareness for the dispossession of treaty land, natural resources and to provide information about the nation's battles against the Dakota Excess and Keystone XL Pipelines.

The Army Corps of Engineers have cancelled Spring Pulses on the Missouri River not because of low flows but because the silt is so poisonous it would kill the very species it says it's trying to preserve. Drawing down Lake Oahe means more bottom scouring that causes incidents like the Silvertip spill on the Yellowstone River during regional flooding in 2011.

As silt fills irrigation diversion dams lower quality water with higher salinity enters the system ultimately rendering soils incapable of supporting life. Displacing many acre-feet of water Lewis and Clark is over thirty percent full of toxic sediment. The Missouri Sedimentation Action Coalition is blaming the sand hills of Nebraska for the silt in Lewis and Clark Lake and is saying they might sell recovered sediment as fracking sand to the oilfields of North Dakota to pump more oil for the Dakota Excess pipeline. Snow and rainwater capture provide much higher quality water for irrigation likely making the beleaguered Lewis and Clark boondoggle obsolete before it's finished or even fully funded.

A lawyer for the Corps said they will "finish its consideration and analysis of the information submitted by the tribes and consider issues identified at the meetings with the tribes" by 10 August.

In a related story, South Dakota's entire earth hater congressional delegation and its lame duck, climate science-denying governor snubbed denatured US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt during his visit to the state.


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