Representatives of some 280 Indigenous nations joined a protest on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota to oppose the construction of an oil pipeline by Energy Transfer Partners. If completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to deliver 570,000 barrels of crude per day to Illinois.
Over the past decade, oil companies have flocked to North Dakota to extract oil from shale by fracturing the Bakken Rock Formation. Most of the crude has always been shipped by rail. In 2014, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners began the process of applying for government permits to construct a pipeline that would begin in Stanley, North Dakota, and traverse 1,170 miles across the state border to ‘in Patoka, Illinois. The final permit was issued on July 25, 2016 after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers verified the work plans, allowing the company to predict that it would be able to complete the project by the end of the ‘year.
But the company has not consulted with tribes whose lands are likely to be affected, such as the Standing Rock Sioux, despite the fact that the
the pipeline will pass under the Missouri River half a mile from their reserve. “We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and the protection of Indian historic and sacred sites,” Dave Archambault II, president-elect of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a statement. “But the military body has ignored all of these laws and rushed this massive project just to meet the aggressive pipeline construction schedule.”
Earthjustice, a group of activist lawyers, helped the Standing Rock Sioux to challenge permits in court. “There have been malls that have received more environmental reviews and tribal consultations than this huge pipeline,” said Jan Hasselman, an Earthjustice lawyer. “Pipelines tip over and leak – it’s not a question of if, but when. The construction will destroy sacred and historically important sites. We need to take a time out and make sure the Corps is following the law before rushing in with the permits.
In April 2015, a protest camp was set up near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Over the summer, activists from other tribes started arriving to join the protests. “We and people from all walks of life are witnessing a peaceful and praying rally to move a whole country,” JoDe Goudy, president of the Yakama nation in eastern Washington state, told the assembled protesters. “A voice, a heart, and a mind to speak for those things that cannot speak for themselves.”
Support has also come from the three affiliated tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota, where oil companies are currently fracking for oil. “We share the strong belief that Dakota Access should find an alternative way and method to transport oil to market that has less potential to negatively impact Standing Rock and the lands we have historically shared with another country, friends. and parents, ”Mark Fox, president of the Three Affiliate Tribes, wrote in an official letter of support.
Company officials say the pipeline project is environmentally friendly. “As one of the largest infrastructure companies in the United States, our experience in
design, construct and operate natural gas, crude oil and
refined product pipelines are vast, ”Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, wrote to his employees in a letter that was also published in the media. “We designed the
state-of-the-art, safer and more efficient Dakota Access pipeline
means of transporting crude oil than the alternatives used today,
namely rail and truck.
On September 9, the courts dismissed the Earthjustice petition. But the scale of the protests convinced the government to reconsider. Hours after court decision, three federal agencies – the US military, the Home Office and the Justice Department – issued a joint statement ordering construction to stop temporarily while they examined the matter. “In recent days we have seen thousands of protesters gather
peacefully, with the support of dozens of sovereign tribal governments, to
exercise their First Amendment rights and express their sincere concerns
on the environment and on historic and sacred sites. It now belongs
it is up to all of us to develop a way forward that serves the broadest public
interest, “the statement read.
|Protest in Burlington, Vermont. Photo: Terry J. Allen.|
Now, tribal activists are preparing to take the fight to the banks that are funding the construction of the pipeline. “We’re against the usual suspects. I’m talking about Citibank. I’m talking about
Wells Fargo. I’m talking about JPMorgan Chase, ”Chase Iron Eyes, an activist and lawyer from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, told a
rally in Washington DC last month, before the group marched on a branch
from TD Bank of Canada.
Similar protests have taken place at TD Bank branches across North America, from Vermont to Vancouver. (TD Bank is the 8th largest lender in the Dakota Access Pipeline,
according to a Food & Water Watch report, providing $ 365
CHA section name:Natural resources