Under the cover of coronavirus, federal and state governments have ramped up their attempted assault on environmental rights.
On March 26, the EPA made the perplexing announcement that it would respond to the novel coronavirus threat by temporarily relaxing enforcement of the country’s environmental protection laws. Earlier that same month, South Dakota’s governor, Republican Kristi Noem, signed a bill categorizing pipelines as “critical infrastructure,” which made tampering with them a felony offense. She also approved an anti-protest measure that designated a group of three or more people resisting oil construction or tampering with oil equipment as a riot — another felony.
As a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and an advocate for Indigenous rights, I found these actions especially concerning. What do these environmental rollbacks say about the value the current administration places on Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives? Oil and gas infrastructure projects don’t just threaten tribal air, water, and soil, they also put Indigenous and rural communities at risk because of the pandemic and health crisis we currently face.
Tribal and rural areas are i... Read more