How to Submit EIS Scoping Comments for DAPL

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 clever photo compliments of our friends at YES! Magazine

 

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE EIS FOR DAPL?

On January 18, 2017, the Army Corps of Engineers published a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement in the Federal Register and announced a public comment period on the scope of the EIS for the Dakota Access Pipeline.   This EIS was ordered by the Assistant Secretary of the Army in early December, the day before thousands of veterans were planning to march on the drill pad at Standing Rock.  An EIS is an environmental study that will assess potential impacts of the project and will be used to inform the Army Corps’s decision about whether or not to grant DAPL its final permit to cross the Missouri River just above the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intake valves.

 

WHAT DOES “SCOPE” MEAN?

The “scope” of the EIS is the range of geographical area and range of topics that will be included in the study.   The Army Corps is asking the public to give feedback on what we think the scope of the study should be.   After this public comment period is over, they will review the comments and (supposedly) take them into account when determining the final scope for the EIS.   Then they will actually conduct the study.   Later this year, they will release a draft of the EIS and the public will have another opportunity to comment on it, before they create their final EIS.   The final EIS will be used to make the permit decision.  

 

HOW DO I SUBMIT A COMMENT?

Scoping comments are due by February 20, 2017.  There are 2 ways to submit:

1)    By mail to:

Gib Owen, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works

108 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0108

*You must include your name, return address, and “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing” on the first page of your written comments:

2)    By email to: gib.a.owen.civ@mail.mil

With subject: “NOI Comments, Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing”

 

HOW DO I MAKE MY COMMENT REALLY GOOD?

Here are a few suggestions to make your scoping comment as powerful as possible:

1)    The Army Corps requests comments that address 3 specific questions.  So try your best to answer them directly….or be clever about framing your comments as answers to them.   This way, they are most likely to hear you.  The questions are:

  • a.    Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River;
  • b.    Potential risks and impacts of an oil spill, and potential impacts to Lake Oahe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s water intakes, and the Tribe’s water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights; and
  • c.     Information on the extent and location of the Tribe’s treaty rights in Lake Oahe.

2)    BUT you can also provide additional information and explain how their 3 questions were too narrow to begin with.  In other words, demand that they BROADEN THE SCOPE.   Their notice says:  “The range of issues, alternatives, and potential impacts may be expanded based on comments received in response to this notice and at public scoping meetings.”  So, for example, you could suggest they include:

  • consideration of the entire project
  • consideration of the entire treaty territory
  • consideration of connected actions
  • potential for and high risk of impacts downriver
  • economic need
  • impacts of extraction in Bakken
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