DAPL nears completion, encounters resistance at and away from construction site
The Dakota Access pipeline project and the battle to block it both proceeded this week. FSRN’s Nell Abram has more.
The North Dakota State Capitol was briefly placed on lock-down Thursday when a group of US clergy members prayed and sang outside – at least 14 people were arrested.
The controversial nearly $4 billion dollar pipeline to carry fracked crude from the Bakken oilfields to a transfer station in Illinois is nearing completion. Native Americans in North Dakota say the segment crossing the Missouri River adjacent to the Standing Rock Reservation threatens their water, is an affront to their sovereignty, and that sacred land has already been destroyed by the pipeline’s construction.
In an interview earlier this week, President Barack Obama finally spoke about the issue saying he generally supports “accommodating” Native American sacred land, and that the Army Corp is trying to determine if alternate routes are possible.
“So we are going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine if this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans,” President Obama told NowThis.
Obama had little concrete to say about claims that law enforcement officials have used excessive force on protesters, but did call for water protectors to be peaceful and law enforcement to show restraint. The president’s comments came hours after the Army Corps sent a letter to the Morton County Sheriff, requesting law enforcement remove anyone trying to enter federal land adjacent to the protest camp.
Another standoff ensued Wednesday when water protectors tried to cross a creek bordering the land, saying they intended to pray at sacred burial sites. With some standing waist deep in the frigid water. Once again, they were met by riot-gear clad law enforcement firing “less-than-lethal” bullets, pepper spray and tear-gas; at least one journalist was hit by rubber bullets.
The police response to protests has caused a ripple effect in nearby states, with Native Americans and their allies standing ground. In South Dakota, the Crow Creek Sioux severed ties with the state government after highway patrol troopers were sent to the standoff in North Dakota.
Support for the indigenous opposition to the pipeline was seen in actions across the country this week, including supporters boarding a bus in Minneapolis, bank sit-ins in Salt Lake City, protests at the Army Corp offices in Philadelphia, and a rush-hour action at New York City’s Grand Central station.
The ongoing protests at Standing Rock have served to highlight the risks associated with moving oil and gas; where accidents have become so common they often fail to register on the news radar.
In Alabama this week, at least one person died and the governor declared a state of emergency after a pipeline operated by Colonial Pipeline exploded, three days later it was still burning. And the Louisiana Bucket Brigade released the next installment in its ongoing study of oil industry accidents in that state – 78 petrochemical accidents were reported … in a two week span.