Dakota Access Seeks to Shield ‘Sensitive’ Info to Protect Pipeline From Possible Terrorist Attack: Court Docs

pandemin/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The company building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline is seeking a ruling that would allow it to seal or redact “sensitive information” in a court filing to prevent what it characterizes as potential terrorists or other malicious actors from using the information to damage the pipeline.

"Given the intense amount of public attention this pipeline has received, and the unlawful activity already experienced, there is a greater than typical risk that this information would be misused to harm the public," the filing states.

The motion for a protective order on the documents was filed late Wednesday by Dakota Access, LLC, in federal court in Washington, D.C., in connection with civil litigation brought by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access.

At issue are 11 documents that Dakota Access says contain specific details of pipeline routes through private land and emergency spill response plans in the event of an accident or intentional sabotage. The documents were in one filing made under seal Wednesday night.

"The information could only be useful," the motion states, "to terrorists or others with the malicious intent to damage the pipeline in a way that maximizes harm to the environment."

The filing notes that the tribes, which are suing to halt the pipeline's completion, have not consented to the sealing of documents and "insist on being able to release the documents without redaction." The Army Corps has also objected to the company's proposal, according to the filing, noting that many of the documents the company seeks to seal are already available in the public record elsewhere.

In a phone interview Thursday, Jan Hasselman, an attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux, told ABC News that the documents the company is seeking to shield from public view are “precisely the kinds of things that should be subject to close public scrutiny.”

“The idea that somehow this is a security risk is complete nonsense,” Hasselman said. “Everybody knows where the pipeline is. Hiding oil spill risk analysis does nothing to protect the pipeline from terrorists. It’s absurd.”

The Trump administration has made the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline an early priority. In a presidential memorandum signed on Jan. 24, President Donald Trump directed the secretary of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers to “review and approve” the pipeline in an expedited manner, to the extent permitted by law. Earlier this week, the Army said it had begun the process of implementing the president’s directive.

The 1,172-mile crude oil pipeline is nearly complete save for a section under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe in North Dakota, which is just north of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Crossing federal property at the lake requires approval from the Army Corps of Engineers.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy declined to issue an easement for the crossing, and directed the Army Corps of Engineers to instead explore alternative routes for the pipeline and to initiate a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), a process which can typically take years. The Army Corps had in July of last year, in a less stringent review called an Environmental Assessment, determined that the project posed no significant threat to the environment.

In the early December announcement, Darcy noted that because of security concerns and sensitivities, several documents, including spill models and risk analysis assessment used by the Corps in evaluating the project, were withheld from the public and the tribes during the assessment. Darcy encouraged the Corps to allow the tribal leaders and their experts access to those documents which “are central to the concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations.”

“This isn’t about the litigation, this is about the EIS process and the opportunity for the public and experts and other tribes to be able to understand the risks of this project,” Hasselman said. “How can the government have reached a conclusion that this project doesn’t have significant environmental consequences when it relied on oil spill analyses prepared by [Dakota Access] and never shared with the public?”

In its court filing Monday, the company argues that public disclosure of the documents “will create unnecessary risks to the public at large,” by pinpointing locations where someone with malicious intent could “wreak the greatest possible harm from those unlawful acts.”

"A person with ill intent should not be able to plan his unlawful actions based on how authorities will respond to those actions," the filing states. "The risk of terrorist actions aimed at the oil industry should not be taken lightly."

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Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil over

Protests erupt from Boston to California as Confederate monument tensions boil overSpencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The weekend after a white nationalist rally collapsed into chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, leading to the alleged murder of an anti-racism activist, protests erupted across the country against white supremacy, racism and the presence of Confederate monuments.

Boston, Massachusetts

Tens of thousands counterprotesting a rally purporting to be about free speech swarmed Boston on Saturday, leading to a few conflicts with police and widespread attention from traditional and social media.

A total of 33 arrests were made Saturday in Boston, primarily resulting from disorderly conduct and alleged assaults against police officers, the Boston Police Department said. Police indicated that some demonstrators were throwing rocks and bottles of urine, but that did not represent the majority of participants, according to Police Commissioner William Evans.

"99.9 percent of the people here were for the right reasons" and participated peacefully, Evans said.

Dallas, Texas

Thousands of demonstrators gathered around the area of Dallas City Hall Saturday at a rally calling for unity, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.

More than a dozen activists, politicians and faith leaders spoke prior to a candlelight vigil, the affiliate reported.

Tensions were high near Confederate War Memorial Park, where calls have been growing to remove statues commemorating Civil War veterans who fought for the Confederacy, WFAA-TV reported.

Cotton candy and caramel apples for sale for $3 in the middle of this protest against Dallas' Confederate War Memorial. pic.twitter.com/SdWNhGmTP1

— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) August 20, 2017

Monuments commemorating the Confederacy on public land "must be and will be removed," Dallas Mayor Dwaine Caraway said at a Friday press conference, which featured black members of Dallas's City Council, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Kevin Felder, one of the City Council members, said "taxpayer dollars should not support vestiges of racism and white supremacy," in reference to the statues, while speaking at Friday's press conference.

Five people were detained during Saturday’s rally and then released without charges, the Dallas Police Department told ABC News.

Memphis, Tennessee

Six demonstrators were arrested in Memphis following a rally to remove a monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slavetrader and lieutenant general who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, according to ABC affiliate WATN-TV.

The monument has become a flashpoint of tension between anti-racism activists, who covered it with anti-racist signs on Saturday, and those who seek to protect the history of the Confederacy.

Gene Andrews, a caretaker for Nathan Bedford Forrest's boyhood home and a participant in the white nationalist rally that took place in Charlottesville last week, told the Tennessean newspaper that tensions over the monuments were building.

"I think people have had enough," Andrews told the paper. "Somewhere there’s going to be a line drawn. And if it’s a war that’s coming, so be it."

Our beloved @tamisawyer and other activists calling on @MayorMemphis remove Confederate statues. #TakeEmDown901 pic.twitter.com/bwjtTmEimp

— Broderick Greer (@BroderickGreer) August 16, 2017

Atlanta, Georgia

Hundreds of groups gathered in Centennial Olympic Park on Saturday in Atlanta to march against racism and hate, according to ABC affiliate WSB-TV.

The march ended at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the affiliate reported.

Hundreds of anti-racism marchers quietly filing into Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta. #Charlottesville pic.twitter.com/gTApyUpWbI

— Rikki Klaus (@RikkiKlausWSB) August 20, 2017

Indianapolis, Indiana

Anthony Ventura, a 30-year-old man, was arrested after police said he damaged the Confederate statue with a hammer, according to ABC affiliate WRTV.

Laguna Beach, California

In Laguna Beach on Saturday, a group of about 300 demonstrators met for a pre-emptive response to a far-right rally planned for that day, the Los Angeles Times reported. At the rally, participants planned to call attention to victims of crimes committed by immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Thank you to Saturday's rally at Main Beach for staying peaceful while expressing your First Amendment rights. #LagunaBeach pic.twitter.com/mufznrEBIL

— Laguna Beach Police (@LagunaBeachPD) August 19, 2017

Saturday’s gathering of counterprotesters, which was set up to show solidarity and strength, was officially called “From Charlottesville to Laguna Beach: We Stand Together.” Laguna Beach Mayor Toni Iseman helped organize the event and spoke to the crowd on Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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