Oglala Lakota Sioux to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem: You are not welcome at Pine Ridge Reservation

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/03/oglala-lakota-sioux-to-south-d.html


If the indigenous nations of North America did have a competition for “who was treated the worst”, the Olglala Lakota Sioux would have a pretty good claim. There was a fantastic article in The Atlantic by Ian Frazier, extracted from his book, “On the Rez” about 20 years back, still online:

I’m actually a Keystone “supporter” in the very limited sense that I think we have to continue using the tools of the existing world (fossil fuels) to build the next world, because the tools of the next world don’t exist. Less poetically, I’m an engineer that can see the economic consequences of trying to spend trillions on a new grid, new ways to generate multiple terawatts, new transportation infrastructure, all while restricting our resources to do it with. They would be bad.

Also, in the sense that there are about 20 pipelines now, and 21 is less than 5% worse. Like so much environmentalism, this is about symbol and not substance. I think the substance is to stop using the stuff. (People who fly to protests when the bus would use 20% of the carbon at the cost of some hours of their time, drive me crazy.)

But all that is beside the point, here. This is a NIMBY problem, where the backyard in question isn’t the same as other backyards, because of history, and no little law. (That the agreements have been endlessly broken makes the law more important to observe, not less).

When you look at the sheer size of the project, the number of miles:

…deking around these lands is a blip, not worth arguing about. Yes, the oil companies treat every little million like their Sacred Lands, but viewed in percentage terms, it’s not worth the ink spent upon it.


API is modeling between 1-1.3 trillion in new investment in oil and gas infrastructure by 2035 (just in the US.)

Every single dollar that goes to carbons would be better spent on renewables, from both a climate perspective and investment perspective.

This is so wrong it hurts. The pipeline projects currently in the works just in Canada and the US will increase capacity over 5x for oil and over 20x for LNG. That’s a shitload more than 5%.

People are trying to stop using the stuff. But the people who want to keep ya in the stuff have more power and more resources, which they wield in no small measure to convince people that
a)its a hoax
b)it won’t be that bad
c) it will be too expensive

A and B have failed, because most of us can see with our own eyes what is happening around us. The jury is still out on option C.

The bottom line is that we’ve quite likely already pumped enough ghg’s into the atmosphere to crack 2* warming by mid century (maybe sooner.)

Don’t even get me started on BECCS…








Pull every lever. Take any and all legal actions to their fullest extent.


I come from a family of engineers and I understand your points.

However, there’s one important one you leave out and that is that this is about first amendment rights - freedom of speech and freedom of religion. To the Oglala Sioux the land in question is as a sacred place with as much spiritual significance as any Christian shrine. Change “Not in my back yard” to “Not in my church” for a clearer perspective.


That’s a kind of like a late-19th Century person saying “we’re never going to get this new Petroleum economy off the ground if we don’t have enough whale oil to light the factories!”


I’ll go along because of my utter ignorance of the local issues. Sometimes claims of what lands are ‘sacred’ go a ways over the top - at least as indicated by the very non-sacred uses the same nation puts the same land to at other times. (The Stoney nation near Calgary logged off nearly all their timber when lumber prices spiked, causing major erosion of their own lands into the river.)

But the Sioux, damn, their lands have been mistreated like few others, and I’ll cheerfully agree. As my original post says, my ultimate support is for going around their lands. We’re just clarifying whether that is important to the Sioux or really, really important. I’d OK spending many millions even if it was mildly important, because they are owed so very, very much. (See Frazier article.)

Plus, from an economic sense, the pipelines right now make no sense. No one is really buying that much oil or gas right now. Not enough to justify the investment whereas with wind and solar there’s plenty of demand for it and not just for environmental considerations. The fact is it’s cheaper to put wind and solar plus battery storage together than a whole new fossil burning plant (and much cheaper than putting together a nuclear plant together). The money behind the oil industry is more like welfare for stubborn billionaires that don’t want to admit the future ain’t in their pet petrol projects/businesses. Frankly, at this point there needs to be a tax on every unit of fossil fuel to make it hurt enough to force them into investing into renewables now (not likely to happen but hey just an idea).


This is mostly off-topic, the topic here being the right line assignment for the pipeline; climate change itself is best argued in forums where the debate can include charts, graphs and large tables of numbers.

One thing does need clarification, that the pipeline is “way more than 5%” [more carbon], true - but it’s only 5% more pipelines. Regardless of load carried, most pipeline spills are similar ecological damage, because the stuff can’t flow very far, more than 100m from the pipeline is very rare indeed.

But as the rest of your post indicates, your concern is with carbon itself, not spills so much, and so is mine. We both want carbon emissions to decline as much and as soon as possible, are in disagreement as to industrial/economic strategy that will build alternatives the soonest.

I believe that a brief period of continued carbon consumption is necessary to build alternatives, which was neatly reduced to a sentence by Canadian researcher Vaclav Smil, whose books should be required reading for anybody commenting on this subject:

“Every wind turbine ever built has been made out of steel that was smelted with coal, in a foundation dug by a backhoe running on diesel, of concrete baked by natural gas.”

Smil goes on to comment on the timelines for reforming the steel, concrete, and heavy construction industries to use no carbon, and it is an engineering possibility, with great economic difficulty, and timelines measured in decades. Taking away carbon from the wind-turbine builders works out to be a net loss in total amount of carbon emitted before the energy transition is complete, because it would take so much longer and so much more money to build them. Projects to build wind farms that go ahead today, would fail as uneconomic, were we to build the wind farm without carbon-based construction resources and materials with high carbon footprints (steel and concrete).

I believe from your words that you imagine restricting production in one place will restrict total global emissions, whereas I imagine that it will not: it will simply move that production to Saudi or Indonesia or the Gulf of Mexico, because demand will remain and it is sold on a global market.

Some people may be “trying to stop using the stuff”, but this is not observed in statistics of the areas that are most-politically supportive of carbon production restriction, as with Canada’s own British Columbia:

…where SUV sales are up, Whistler provides 90% of the world’s “heli-skiing” (the world’s most carbon-intensive sport), and in Quebec, where gasoline demand is up 13% since 2013. All of this happens immediately when oil prices fall, so consumption-restriction is almost entirely economic, not moral.

Then there’s James Cameron, who came up to the tar sands to bash them…in his private jet. Words fail me.

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Any action that artificially reduces the cost of fossil fuels de-incentivizes investment in other energy sources.

Fossil fuels are in finite and decreasing supply, increasingly difficult to extract, often sourced from politically volatile and problematic regions and laden with huge externalized costs. If we simply allowed the true cost of those factors to be reflected in the cost of the fuels then the market would be pushing for better alternatives.


Also, not in my drinking water.


I just want to remark on the badass-ness of that letter. It says it will take the equivalent of an act of the Nation’s congress before you’re allowed to visit again.


I was responding to you. If this is going to stray too far from the op I’m sure @orenwolf will have no trouble splitting it off into a new topic. We can even go full Ross Perot on the chart game. Whatever it takes! We are going to need your help in the coming years- climate change is an all-hands-on-deck-ten-alarm-fire-defcon-one level emergency.

My point is that 5% more pipelines is meaningless. Even still, DAPL at full strength will be twice the capacity of the largest pipeline. And if the pipe breaks over a waterway,you’ll need to include a factor on that 100m^2 cleanup site area.

I am absolutely concerned with spills- the easiest way to prevent that of course is to not build pipelines.

And it’s not so much that we are in disagreement as to strategy, which we most certainly are, but the fact that in your strategy we will be blowing past at least 3* warming, at which point much of the damage from climate change will be irreparable. As in, trillions in dollars in property damage, hundreds of millions of refugees, failed states and war in the hardest hit/poorest parts of the world, massive extinctions… I can go on. The point is, the strategy you are arguing for I find to be anthrocidal.

I believe from your words that you are advocating our extinction, hows that for test-grade projection. Like, seriously, does anyone even think that? Does anyone live in a place where the same cloud hovers above their head and never moves?

Quite frankly, the rest of your post is what-aboutism.


Sure, but it’s unnecessary to build new and dangerous pipelines to fuel that consumption.




All this stuff about oil is totally irrelevant and most of the stuff about whether or not land is “sacred” is mostly irrelevant. Apparently I am the only one here who recognizes the real issue - Twisty Kristi and her fellow Trans Canada puppets are trying to negate the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. They are trying to pass laws that would make it all but impossible for someone to legally protest any corporate action. And they are doing it for the most morally reprehensible reason possible - because they have decided that instead of public servants representing the people of their state, they are in actuality whores in the service of a foreign corporation.

I have to wonder what would happen if Twisty decided to make a show and drove onto the rez anyway. I’d love to see the Lakota surround the motorcade and force them to circle the wagons.


You just made an argument for buying no more Saudi, Venezuelan, Indonesian, or Nigerian oil, and switching to the more-expensive tar sands supply. We are our own best customers for north american supplies, because they create jobs, etc etc. When the Saudis cut off oil in 1973, the economy was greatly harmed and we have been determined since to “secure domestic production of a strategic resource” and so pursued the expensive tar sands option, even as Britain and Norway pursued the painfully expensive North Sea oil on oil platforms.

Were the tar sands shut down, significant carbon emissions would first result to build more oil-terminal capacity to take on foreign oil from tankers, fracking would be pursued with more vigor, finally resulting in cheaper supply and ultimately greater consumption. We would only lose on that “strategic” stuff and actually have cheaper oil.

My preference for suppressing consumption rather than production comes from my observation of the drug wars for 40 years. Suppressing production of those undesired substances was much easier than with oil: it was actually illegal and attempting to import or produce any netted long jail terms.

This aggressive suppression resulted in hydroponics for cannabis and the “crack” formulation of cocaine; both greatly reduced price and increased consumption. And, in an amusing rhyming coincidence, the rising price of oil brought us fracking - “crack” was taken - and lower oil prices. Which are in turn responsible for the higher consumption of the last four years.

It kills me that (my fellow) liberals who oppose oil production are also the first to say that production-suppression never worked in the war on drugs. I’ve tried to get a few to repeat the phrase “America is addicted to oil” to see if that would jolt them into seeing the contradiction, but I’m not able to manipulate conversations that way.

Look, this is all off-topic and I’m quitting here. I did write up a few private blog posts to straighten out my thoughts on this and collect my research links. I wouldn’t recommend my opinions to anybody, (I recommend Vaclav Smil’s and Gwynne Dyer’s) but the research links on this may prove of interest:


I’m not even talking about putting artificial restrictions on the production of fossil fuels, I’m talking about removing subsidies and other measures that keep the cost of those fuels artificially low. If that means the coal used to smelt steel for new windmills costs more then so be it.


I believe from your words that you are advocating our extinction,

Wow. We’re a very hard species to kill. This “running out of time” nonsense was appropriate in 1970, but we ran out of time 20 years ago at this point, to reduce carbon to 2-4 GT/year, if we wanted the 22nd century to have the same climate as the 20th. We are already sentenced to climate impacts large enough to kill off millions of people; few will die in this century, mostly next.

However, as stated, we’re hard to kill. I doubt the impacts will hit a billion deaths, but if they do, it’s just 1/7th of the race. Isn’t talking about megadeaths ENOUGH reason for action? Do you really have to go with “extinction”? For a species that can exist at the poles and equator, the only question is death count, not total extinction. The hyperbolic rhetoric about it just costs you credibility.

Our goal, long since, is simply reducing the death count that will hit 3-4 generations from now. That highlights the problem with these issues: they take so long to take effect that everybody tunes them out.

So people keep doing this “we have just a few years left”, which I’ve been hearing every year for decades, because anything else isn’t frightening enough.

So: we’re already fucked, and the goal is to reduce the degree of it, by reducing the total tonnage of carbon put into the atmosphere during the remainder of the carbon era. I believe that is best done by

a) moral suasion to reduce consumption, which will have very modest, single-digit-percentage effects;

b) economic suasion to not consume by artificially elevating price with taxes, regulations, etc. This cannot increase price more than a few tens of percent, because we all live in democracies that will toss out any government that pushes too hard. (Establishing authoritarian regimes to force lower consumption will hike up that death count, again, sorry)

c) providing alternatives to carbon-based solutions, which requires building infrastructure and new production systems (jets that run on hydrogen, e-cars and trucks, more mass transit, fast trains, roughly five million megawatts of wind turbines at $1.5M/MW, 3 million MW of solar, thousands of GW-scale energy-storage reservoirs…) which will be very expensive and energy-intensive to develop.

Also, we have to figure out how to produce a GT of concrete per year - it doesn’t just currently take heat to make it, but the chemical reaction as it sets releases large amounts of CO2; so does the chemical process that makes fertilizer.

Until all this is done, the CO2 level in the atmosphere will not begin to decline. It will keep rising, slowly maybe but rising, until we have reduced carbon consumption by at least 90% and more likely 95%. We cannot do that by shutting down a percent or two of global oil production and then blaming China and the Middle East for not doing so. We can only do it by building tens of trillions of dollars in new infrastructure, and using the energy resources we have available to do so.

It’s not that keystone and other projects need my support, but I have no time for opposing them, either; neither should anybody else. All environmentalist efforts should go towards pressing for the development of alternatives.

Rock oil saved the whales. It provided a cheaper alternative. Marching against Herman Melville would not have saved the whales; they would all be dead.

Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Jimbob committing spousal abuse does not make it OK.

China is taking immense steps now to stave off glclimate change, from carbon tax to forest replantings on a scale that currently offsets the loss of the Amazonian rainforest. They’ve industrialized rapidly, that’s true. And they are already surpassing the west in terms of responsible land usage and mindfulness.