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Dakota Access Pipeline Legal Battle to Rage Through Summer

Native American protest inside Union Station in Washington, D.C., in support of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe s stance against the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL. November 15, 2016.

The protesters and cameras are gone and oil is flowing[1] through the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, but the battle over the 1,200-mile pipeline continues in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C.

In the next few months, a team of lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Norton Rose Fulbright[2] will try to convince a district judge to keep the pipeline open while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reassesses the permit it granted Dakota Access. The Standing Rock Sioux and other nearby tribes asked that the pipeline be shut down Wednesday during the Corps review.

Opening briefs on the issue from Dakota Access and the Corps were set for July 17, and the tribes response is due Aug. 7. A decision isn t expected until as early as September.

Last week, in a 91-page opinion[3], Judge James Boasberg ruled the Corps permitting process was legally flawed. Boasberg ordered the Corps to conduct further review to determine if an EIS is needed, but declined to vacate the existing permit.

Leading the charge for Dakota Access, which joined forces with the Army Corps as an intervenor, are William Scherman, David Debold and Miguel Estrada of Gibson Dunn, and Kimberly Caine and Robert Comer of Norton Rose. Alan Glen of Nossaman is also on the team.

Opposing them is Jan Hasselman with the environmental legal group Earthjustice[4], who is arguing the case on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux.

Our view is that until there is a proper risk analysis that looks at the risk of oil spills, that considers the impacts to the tribe, they shouldn t be operating that pipeline, Hasselman said after the hearing. We ll be saying that as forcefully as we can to the court.

Another concern for the tribes, raised multiple times during the hearing Wednesday, is whether the Corps will allow public comment and input from the tribes during the review. If they don t, Hasselman said his clients will seek a court order requiring it.

If the Army Corps goes into a room and closes the door and comes up with a new analysis, we won t have moved this ball forward. We won t have solved any legal problem. We ll just be back in front of the court again, Hasselman said. So our position is, this needs to be an open process.

The tribes had argued[5] that under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Corps should be required to conduct a full environmental impact statement, known as an EIS, before issuing a permit to Dakota Access. In December, the Obama administration rescinded the permit and ordered[6] an EIS. But in February, the Trump administration rescinded that order and granted the permit.

For much of last year, the litigation ran parallel to massive protests by tribe members and activists at the pipeline construction site in North Dakota. An estimated 10,000 people camped out in the area to protest, the last of whom were cleared[7] out in February. Tensions reached new heights after protests turned violent[8] amid clashes with private security officers in September. North Dakota then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple even activated[9] the state s National Guard to assist local law enforcement with the protests.

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Sleeping Sailors on USS Fitzgerald Awoke to a Calamity at Sea

Heroic efforts prevented the flooding from catastrophically spreading, which could have caused the ship to founder or sink, said Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Navy s Seventh Fleet. It could have been much worse.

Continue reading the main story[1]

With the aid of tugboats, the Fitzgerald returned on Saturday to its port, the American base at Yokosuka, Japan, south of Tokyo.

As hundreds of anxious spouses, children and fellow sailors waited for word, Navy divers entered flooded compartments below decks and recovered the bodies of seven sailors, according to former Navy officials.

The Navy released the names on Sunday night of the seven sailors who were killed. The victims were all located in flooded berths, the Navy said.

They were identified as Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego; Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Tex.; Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md.; and Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio.

The Navy said the collision inflicted significant damage to the destroyer above and below the water line, flooding berths, a machinery area and the radio room.

Photographs showed the side of the Fitzgerald caved in about one-third of the way back. Among the compartments that flooded were cabins where 116 sailors were sleeping, Admiral Aucoin said.

A collision of a United States Navy[2] ship resulting in fatalities is extremely rare; veteran seamen could recall only a handful in recent decades.

Admiral Aucoin said he would appoint a flag officer to conduct one of several investigations that will seek to establish exactly what happened and to apportion responsibility.

Continue reading the main story[3]

The Navy will conduct a separate safety investigation intended to find lessons on what might be done differently to reduce the risk of such accidents in the future.

The United States Coast Guard will also carry out a marine casualty investigation, Admiral Aucoin said, evidently because the crash involved a commercial ship, the 29,000-ton ACX Crystal, registered in the Philippines.

According to Navy veterans, the main investigation ordered by Admiral Aucoin will compile a minute-by-minute timeline of everything that happened before the collision, probably beginning at the moment the ACX Crystal appeared on the Fitzgerald s radar.

Investigators will interview everyone who was on duty that night and assess their training, experience, competence and sleep schedule. They will also assess the performance of the radar, which stores a recording like the black box on an aircraft.

They will determine whether anyone on the ship s bridge pulled the collision alarm, a switch that would have caused an extremely loud signal to sound, directing every crew member to rush to specifically assigned emergency stations on the ship.

Photo Sleeping Sailors On USS Fitzgerald Awoke To A Calamity At Sea United States military personnel working on board the damaged destroyer. The search for seven missing Navy sailors has ended. Credit Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

The crew is highly trained in damage control, Admiral Stavridis said. That includes fighting fires and fighting flooding.

The mother of a sailor who survived the collision, Mia Sykes, said her son kept diving to try to save his shipmates until the flooded berth began running out of air pockets, while others believing the ship was under attack hurried to man the guns.

Ms. Sykes, of Raleigh, N.C., told The Associated Press that her son, Brayden Harden, 19, was knocked out of his bunk by the impact. She said Mr. Harden told her that four men in his berth, including those sleeping on bunks above and below him, died, while three died in the berth above his.

The investigators attention will be focused in particular on the Fitzgerald s commander, Bryce Benson, who was in his stateroom on the destroyer s starboard side when the Crystal s bow struck right at that point. He was injured and airlifted by a Japanese Coast Guard helicopter to Yokosuka, along with two other crew members, the Navy said.

Continue reading the main story[4]

His cabin was destroyed. He s lucky to be alive, Admiral Aucoin said of Commander Benson, 40.

Before retiring for the night, Commander Benson would have signed routine night orders, updating the standing orders he had issued to the entire crew. They would almost certainly have dictated those on watch to wake him if another ship was expected to pass close to the Fitzgerald in the busy shipping lane south of Tokyo.

The fact that he was in his cabin when the collision occurred suggested that there was very little warning before the accident, Navy veterans said.

Some captains include in the night orders a generic admonition, Call me if you re in doubt. Most ask to be awakened if another vessel s closest point of approach, or C.P.A., is less than a certain set distance.

My orders were always to call me if the C.P.A. was less than 5,000 yards, said Bryan McGrath, a national security consultant who commanded a destroyer in the Atlantic from 2004 to 2006.

Such orders, in the kind of ocean traffic in that part of the Pacific, would make for much-interrupted sleep for the captain. But it reflects the unique status of the captain of a Navy ship in American society absolute authority, and absolute accountability, Mr. McGrath said.

It doesn t matter if you re asleep when the collision occurs, Mr. McGrath said. Why didn t the watch standers call you? Were they not trained properly? Ultimately, it s all your responsibility.

Several experienced ship commanders said the captain is all but certain to be relieved of command because of the accident.

Continue reading the main story[5]

It s a terrible, swift sanction, but it sends a message to everyone else in the fleet make sure you re training harder, make sure they call you when another ship is approaching, Mr. McGrath said.

Admiral Stavridis, the former destroyer commander, who is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts, said it was too early to speculate about the cause of the collision.

The Fitzgerald, under international maritime rules, would be expected to give the Crystal the right of way because it was on the destroyer s starboard side when they hit.

Initially, both the Navy and the Japanese Coast Guard put the likely time of the collision at about 2:20 a.m., and some experts speculated that a series of odd turns that the Crystal made before 2:20 might have contributed to the accident. But after further investigation, the Japanese authorities said they believed the collision actually took place almost an hour earlier, at about 1:30 a.m., making the unusual turns by the container ship appear to have been a result of the crash, not its cause.

Whatever the ultimate findings, Admiral Stavridis said, My heart is really with the captain. He s got a rough passage ahead, to put it in nautical terms.

Marc Tuell, who served as a personnel specialist on the Fitzgerald from 2010 to 2013, when he retired from the Navy, said it was deeply disturbing to watch the video of the damaged ship being towed to port in Japan.

I was putting myself in the mind-set of what the crew is going through, said Mr. Tuell, of Deltona, Fla., who now works at a Toyota dealer. It s pretty heart wrenching, having walked those decks for three years.

Correction: June 19, 2017

An earlier version of this article, using information from a Navy news release, misstated how long Cmdr. Bryce Benson has been in command of the destroyer, the U.S.S. Fitzgerald. Commander Benson became the ship s captain in May after serving as its executive officer from November 2015 to March 2017; he has not been its captain for more than a year.

Correction: June 19, 2017

An earlier version of this article included incorrect information from the Japanese Coast Guard about the time of the collision. After further investigation, the Coast Guard said on Monday that it had occurred around 1:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, not around 2:20 a.m. as previously estimated.

Continue reading the main story[6]


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Deputies bust 19-year-old for selling pot-spiked cereal treats

Deputies Bust 19-year-old For Selling Pot-spiked Cereal Treats

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies seized 16 bags of pot-spiked cereal treats at a popular park. (Jackson County Sheriff’s Department)

JACKSON COUNTY, Miss. (KATU[1]) – Deputies in Mississippi confiscated a haul of tainted treats Wednesday – in the form of a popular breakfast item.

Jackson County sheriff’s deputies seized[2] 16 bags of “marijuana-infused cereal treats” at a popular park. They say 19-year-old Deshea Johnson, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was trying to sell the drugs to three juveniles. The humor of the bust wasn’t lost on deputies, but they see the potential danger.

“What if one of these juveniles took something and what if a 2- or 3-year-old child picked up that Rice Krispie treat? What do you got now? You’ve got a serious problem,” Sheriff Mike Ezell said.

He added, “We want parents to know this stuff is making the rounds and they need to be aware of it.”

Deputies say they’re seeing an uptick in drug-related crimes in the area. The park where these bags were taken is popular with residents for its scenery and water access. But in the last six months, police have come out to the park and made arrests about half a dozen times. Johnson was charged with one count of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and is being held at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center.


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