The opponents of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline have recently gained a slew of new supporters in members of Congress, archaeologists, and scientists. On Thursday nineteen members of Congress sent a letter to the Obama Administration calling on the President to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The letter was signed by leading Democrats Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Rep. Barbara Lee (CA) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI). The group calls on Obama to withdraw permits for the DAPL, “like you did with the rejection of the Keystone Pipeline.”
“You can and should extend your historic legacy,” the letter stated. “The pipeline poses significant threats to the environment, public health, and tribal and human rights.”
The DAPL, alternatively known as the Bakken Pipeline, is owned by Dallas, Texas-based corporation Energy Transfer Partners, L.P., which created the subsidiary Dakota Access LLC. The pipeline will stretch 1,172 miles upon completion and transport crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project is set to cross the Missouri River not far from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The Oceti Sakowin, Sacred Stone and Red Warrior Camp’s were formed in opposition to the pipeline due to threats to sacred sites and the Missouri River.
The letter to Obama was followed by an open letter from a group of more than 100 scientists from universities across the United States. Published in the journal Science, the letter was authored by Stephanie Januchowski-Hartley (PhD, Universite Paul Sabatier in France), AnneHilborn, PhD Candidate at Virginia Tech) Katherine Crocker (PhD Candidate at University of Michigan), and Asia Murphy (PhD candidate at University of Pennsylvania).
“We as scientists are concerned about the potential local and regional impacts from the DAPL, which is symptomatic of the United States’ continued dependence on fossil fuels in the face of predicted broad-scale social and ecological impacts from global climate change,” the letter states. “We support halting any construction of the DAPL until revised environmental and cultural assessments are carried out as requested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. ”
Only weeks before both of these letters, the Standing Rock Sioux also garnered support from a coalition of more than 1,200 archeologists, museum directors and historians. The coalition spoke to the United Nations and condemned the destruction of sacred sites during the construction of the pipeline.
Relations between water protectors with the Standing Rock Sioux and the police hired to protect the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) deteriorated last Wednesday after police showed up dressed for a riot. A caravan of hundreds of water protectors were attempting to hold ceremony and pray for the end of the pipeline at two different sites of construction when police began surrounding them with military style vehicles and shotguns drawn. Police made 21 arrests.
Despite the recently escalated actions the Army Corps of Engineers acknowledged that they do not have any plans, nor the resources, to force the camps to leave.
“We don’t have the physical ability to go out and evict people – it gives the appearance of not protecting free speech,” said Eileen Williamson, a Corps spokeswoman. “Our hands are really tied.”
The level of violence employed against the water protectors is a perfect example of how far big financial interests like Big Oil will go to protect their assets and push forth with their plans regardless of what the people want. In a recent interview on Democracy Now!, Lisa Graves,executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy and publisher of PRWatch.org and ExposedByCMD.org, said that recent investigations had uncovered ties between the Republican Attorneys General Association and the oil industry.
“What we have disclosed through our open records requests and through other investigations is the incredible role of oil companies, including Exxon, but other companies, in basically getting influence with these attorneys general,” Graves told Amy Goodman. “The attorney general of North Dakota has been the AG for more than 15 years. He’s the top law enforcement officer of that state, yet he’s been part of a pay-to-play operation that is the Republican Attorneys General Association, where they raise money for this group. The money—this group, RAGA, then helps fund those campaigns of those attorneys general.”
And so continues the revolving door between corporations and government. If the free people of this world are ever to actually experience a world free of corruption, systemic violence, coercion, and authority-worship we are going to have to stand up and claim it. We must ask tough questions about the ways we might be supporting our own enslavement and future demise. If you are standing with Standing Rock are you still using Big Oil’s products? It’s nearly impossible to avoid the influence of fossil fuels, but by creating community initiatives that empower and educate our neighborhoods we can take the power back and save the planet.
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