Senators ask Obama to suspend all Dakota Access Pipeline permits

If it’s finished, the Dakota Access pipeline will run roughly 1,100 miles across farmlands, forests and rivers in four states to a terminus in southern Illinois. (Photo credit: Chris Geovanis)

Five U.S. Senators, led by former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, asked President Barack Obama Thursday to suspend all construction permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline and halt work on the nearly 4 billion dollar, four state project. The senators requested a full stop on the pipeline until a “complete environmental and cultural review” is done for the entire project. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.

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In a letter to the President the lawmakers cited not just the treaty rights of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but also the larger implications of yet another massive fossil fuel infrastructure project on the climate crisis.

The request followed a court ruling last Sunday night that refused to extend an injunction blocking work on a contested segment of the controversial pipeline. After the ruling, direct action resumed not just in North Dakota – but across the country.

In four states along the northern U.S. border with Canada, ten people were arrested Tuesday after shutting down all five pipelines that carry tar-sands oil into the country.

“We are acting in response to the call to action from Standing Rock, for escalated response and prayers and actions and this is in solidarity to them,” said Afrin Sopariwala, with Climate Direct Action’s – the group that led the coordinated shut-downs.

Sopariwala says even more than supporting indigenous water defenders fighting the Dakota Access pipeline, the shut downs were meant to draw attention to what Climate Direct Action calls the inadequacy of global response to the climate crisis.

Last week, the European Union approved the ratification of the Paris Agreement, reaching the 55 nation threshold required to implement the international climate deal.

Sopariwala says it’s insufficient: “Even though 192 countries signed an agreement to cap climate increase to 1.5 degrees from the baseline, there isn’t a single plan that has been put forth by any government or climate organization that comes close to matching this target.”

Those arrested included not only the climate activists who took direct action to shutter the pipelines, but also journalists who were on the scene.

One of them, documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, was charged with three felonies and faces up to 45 years in prison. Scholsberg is just one of numerous journalists who have been arrested covering the growing movement against the Dakota Access pipeline and its broader implications. At least four reporters with the non-profit independent media collective Unicorn Riot have been arrested covering the Standing Rock Sioux actions in North Dakota, including one this week which the group filmed and uploaded to their website.

And Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who was charged after filming a private security company unleashing attack dogs on protesters, is headed back to North Dakota to answer criminal trespass charges in Court next Monday.

[Editor’s note: This is a version of an earlier story that was updated with new information for the Weekly Edition.]

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