When considering who would be affected by the Dakota Access Pipeline, the federal government focused on two predominantly white counties rather than the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation downstream.
That analysis is now key to a newly ordered review of the pipeline, focusing on whether environmental justice was adequately considered for the low-income, minority community less than a mile south of the Lake Oahe crossing.
The issue often arises when deciding where to put projects, such as hazardous waste facilities, refineries, landfills and highways. In an effort to avoid controversy, companies sometimes try citing projects in impoverished areas, according to Deborah Sivas, a professor of environmental law at Stanford Law School.
“There has been a concern in the last couple of decades that projects that might be controversial stay away from affluent areas where people have the time and resources to organize,” she said.
Sivas said people in lower income communities sometimes can’t hire lawyers or do not have time to show up at the meetings where public input is heard.
“If the agencies haven’t been the watchdog for the community, no one will,” she said.Read More