Indigenous tribes around US pledge to step up pipeline protests


WASHINGTON / HOUSTON, February 8 (Reuters) – Native American groups have said they will step up efforts to block energy infrastructure development across the United States to prevent future water contamination and damage to sacred lands, following the defeat of the Standing Rock Sioux in its battle against the $ 3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.

Protesters were due to rally in a number of US cities on Wednesday, a day after the US military said in a legal file it planned to cancel an environmental study and grant the final easement needed to complete the pipeline Dakota.

The permit was widely seen as inevitable after President Donald Trump in January ordered federal agencies to speed up the processing of the application.

In states like Texas, Louisiana, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, Native American groups have said they will step up efforts ranging from lawsuits, protests and legislation against developing and existing energy projects.

“We are staying very firm against Dakota Access… It’s going to make us fight a lot harder. What the Corps is doing is just another cut in their belt to say no to us, ”said Chief Shirell Parfait-Dardar of the Grand Caillou / Dulac Band from Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, Louisiana.

They are among the opponents of the extension of Energy Transfer Partners’ Bayou Bridge crude pipeline, which would stretch from Lake Charles to St. James, Louisiana. Energy Transfer is the company behind the 1,170 mile (1,885 km) Dakota Line.

Native American activists say they are galvanized by protests in North Dakota, where opponents began camping last April. The protests slowly escalated throughout the summer and began to escalate after dogs attacked some of the activists at the site.

Throughout the fall, there were 3,000 to 5,000 people regularly in camps opposite the pipeline.

After law enforcement used water cannons on protesters in freezing weather in late November, the camp grew to more than 10,000 people, a mix of indigenous tribes, climate activists and Veterans.

Protesters in the United States, claiming to be “protectors of the water,” have taken Trump’s executive orders for Dakota Access and TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL line as an attack on treaty rights and have vowed to uphold pressure.

“Indian tribes are not opposed to infrastructure… we need roads, bridges, schools and hospitals like everyone else. But the tribes must be respected as governments, and the infrastructure process must take into account our rights and interests, ”said Brian Cladoosby, president of the National Congress of American Indians. He had helped draw Obama’s attention to the protests against the Dakota pipeline in September.

The Standing Rock Sioux, along with other native tribes, have already scheduled a march in Washington, DC on March 10.

Although some said they were planning to return to North Dakota to protest – responding to a call from the Sacred Stone Camp, the original protest camp, for activism and prayer – many said they focused on their own lands, including the Trans-Pecos in West Texas and the Diamond Pipeline in Oklahoma.

Opposition to Plains All American Pipeline LP’s Diamond crude line from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Memphis, Tennessee, has caught the attention of the Mvskoke Nation of Oklahoma, which plans to hold a tribal council in late February to oppose at the line.

In Wisconsin, the Bad River Band Tribe recently decided not to renew an easement for Enbridge Energy Partners LP’s Line 5 and are requesting that the line be removed from their land.

Joye Braun, a community organizer from the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, works with adjacent communities or on the Keystone XL route.

The Trump administration invited TransCanada to resubmit its application to build this pipeline, which was struck down in 2015 by the Obama administration. A number of Nebraska landowners were fiercely opposed to this line. TransCanada has since resubmitted its application, although it is not clear whether the line will be built.

“These pipelines are a direct threat to the Great Sioux Nation, to our treaty rights,” Braun said after Trump issued his executive orders. (Written by David Gaffen, edited by Matthew Lewis)


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