On Sunday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for a permanent injunction to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL 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, within a half-mile of 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 D.C Appeals Court ruling gives ETP permission to move forward with construction of the pipeline on privately owned land. Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II told NBC News that the Sioux “aren’t done with this fight.”
The Standing Rock Sioux filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for inadequately consulting with the tribe before granting ETP “fast-track approval” in July. This, the Sioux say, is in violation of the National Historic Preservation Act. Construction of the pipeline was temporarily halted in some places after an injunction was issued in August, but ETP continued construction of the pipeline in other areas. This led to conflicts between the water protectors with the Standing Rock Sioux and the local law enforcement.
The appellate court’s ruling did note that the final word on the matter lies with the Army Corps of Engineers. The three-judge panel said it “can only hope that the spirit” of the act “may yet prevail.”
“It seems they are coming to the same conclusion as the federal government in acknowledging there is something wrong with the approvals for the pipeline,” Archambault said. “We see this as an encouraging sign.”
On Monday, one day after the court’s decision, hundreds of water protectors gathered at the site of construction on private property. Twenty-seven people were arrested when they attempted to leave, including actress and environmental activist Shailene Woodley. Woodley was live streaming the events via Facebook for nearly two hours with around 35,000 people watching. As she began to leave the action, an officer dressed in riot and military-style gear stopped her, asking someone off camera, “this one?” before detaining and eventually arresting Woodley.
“It’s because I’m well-known, it’s because I have 40,000 people watching it,” she said while being arrested.
She would be charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot. By the time she was in handcuffs Woodley’s live feed had more than 40,000 live viewers and now has been seen over 3.8 million times. If the goal of the police was to limit the release of information to the public they failed miserably. All they did was boost the signal.
On Tuesday there were nine more arrests as activists outside of North Dakota were attempted to shut down pipelines as part of solidarity action. Meanwhile, Cody Hall, a spokesman for the Red Warrior Camp, said the group is discussing more nonviolent actions to stop or limit construction on the pipeline.
Despite the arrests and ongoing attacks toward unarmed people, the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline is far from over. Water protectors with the Standing Rock Sioux have recently received the support of 100 members of Congress, over 100 scientists, and more than 1,200 archaeologists, museum directors and historians. The local law enforcement and private security hired by ETP will do what they need to protect their investment and the Sioux seem prepared to fight to defend the Earth. We will have to see who budges first or if a peaceful resolution can be found.
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