On September 26th 2016, Earthworks landed in Bismarck, North Dakota. My colleague Hilary Lewis and I travelled there from our post in Washington, DC to report on the growing, Native American-led opposition to Energy Transfer Partner’s latest project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). We didn’t have a specific address to navigate to, or even cell service to navigate with, but we knew to follow the highway south towards the town of Cannon Ball. Aside from a security checkpoint outside of the capitol city, staffed by some helpful National Guard officers, the journey was as desolate as it was beautiful.
A few weeks ago, both Earthworks and the San Carlos Apache Tribe filed lawsuits challenging the US Forest Service’s choice to do an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the impacts of work needed to better characterize the publicly-owned lands on which Resolution Copper wants to dump 1.5 billion tons (no, that is not a typo – billions with a B) of mine waste over a half dozen square miles near the San Carlos Apache’s reservation, east of Phoenix, Arizona. The Forest Service chose an EA instead of a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which considers the option of not building the dump.
For over 25 years, Earthworks has worked with frontline communities impacted by mining, drilling, and digging. Two and half years ago, we began using FLIR infrared technology to film and monitor emissions and leaks at oil and gas facilities around the country. In early 2016, these efforts became a formal part of Earthworks, known as the Citizens Empowerment Project (CEP). We opened our doors to concerned citizens everywhere, and began soliciting requests for the FLIR camera on our website.