As Comment Period Closes, Diverse Voices Call for Overhaul of Fast-Track Pipeline Approval Process

Mark Hefflinger
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As Comment Period Closes, Diverse Voices Call for Overhaul of Fast-Track Pipeline Approval Process

Nationwide Permit No. 12 process, up for renewal, gives blank check to Big Oil

Yesterday marked the close of the comment period for the public to weigh in on the renewal of Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP12). NWP12 serves as a blanket permit that can be used to fast-track the construction of massive oil pipelines by artificially treating them as thousands of small, individual projects that are exempt from the environmental review required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

With the permit up for renewal, thousands of people from across the country have weighed in – including over 50,000 comments submitted yesterday from the Sierra Club alone – to express serious concerns about this process. By effectively shutting out public input and allowing dangerous crude oil and fracked gas pipelines to be rubberstamped behind closed doors, the continued use of NWP12 poses a serious threat to critical water resources, Indigenous rights, communities, and the climate.

“A pipeline is a pipeline — period. It’s not hundreds of separate pipelines,” said Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator with MN350. “The Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois was just approved under NWP 12 over massive grassroots opposition because the Corps shirked its responsibility to look at the project as a whole. This makes a mockery of our regulatory process to the detriment of landowners, tribes, and local communities.”

“Oil companies have been using this antiquated fast-track permit process that was not designed to properly address the issues of mega-projects such as the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Dallas Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network. “Meanwhile, tribal rights to consultation have been trampled and Big Oil is allowed to put our waters, air and land at immense risk. This cannot continue, its time for an overhaul.”

“Landowners property rights are once again thrown under the bus so a Big Oil corporation can put more pipelines in the ground that our country does not need,” said Jane Kleeb, President of Bold Alliance. “You cannot keep building pipelines and think you can magically hit our commitments made in Paris to cut carbon pollution.”

“The federal government has a duty to tribal nations and to the safety of all U.S. citizens,” said Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director with Honor the Earth. “With the fast-tracking of a pipeline that will contaminate the clean drinking water of tribal peoples and irrevocably damage the environment without proper environmental review, these duties are blatantly violated. We cannot drink oil, water is our finite life source. This decision is appalling and must be reversed.”

Commenters representing environmental groups, landowner rights organizations, and Tribal communities are urging the Army Corps of Engineers to either revoke Nationwide Permit 12 or modify it to prevent the segmentation of pipelines and resume its prior practice of fully evaluating the environmental impacts of individual fossil fuel pipelines.

“Known threats to the public’s safety should never be fast tracked, but that’s exactly what renewing NWP12 would do,” said Catherine Collentine, Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club Dirty Fuels Campaign. “It’s time we put the well-being of our communities above polluter profits, and stop the rapid expansion of infrastructure for dirty and outdated fuels.”

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