From afar, the future of the Standing Rock struggle looks bleak.
President Donald Trump is pushing the Dakota Access pipeline project through. And some tribal leaders, who are asking protesters to leave Standing Rock, are turning their attention to demanding further environmental reviews.
But the fight on the ground isn’t over. The water protecters are there, and leaders in the Lakota Sioux community are still asking people to come help with obstructing construction and join the peaceful struggle against the pipeline.
“People can come — we’re going to need it,” Chase Ironeyes, a leading Lakota activist and member of the Lakota People’s Law Project, said in a phone interview Friday. “They fully plan to drill, and we’ll need bodies.”
The mixed messaging about whether people should arrive in droves to Standing Rock comes from the conflicting approach of the Standing Rock organizers and the local tribal government. David Archambault II, the tribal chairman of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, has repeatedly called for evacuation of protest sites.
Yet according to Ironeyes, many indigenous groups with potential claims to the Standing Rock treaty lands and the water protecters on site intend to stick it out with civil disobedience and peaceful protest.
There are still hundreds of people holding the front line at the Oceti Sakowin and Sacred Stone camps. Just this week, a contingent of veterans like the group that came to the site’s rescue in December raised another round of at least $130,000 to send another group to the site.
But the vast majority of that land is on a plain that could be totally flooded by the end of the month. So on Thursday, water protecters marched up a hill above the Oceti Sakowin encampment to establish a new site called Last Child’s Camp.
Within an hour of establishing a new sacred fire to consecrate the site, law enforcement in military vehicles raided the camp. Over 70 were arrested, including Ironeyes and water protecter Vanessa Castle, who were both charged with inciting a riot, a felony that could put them behind bars for 5 years.
Still, the water protecters will keep trying to establish a safer encampment.
“We’re going to continue getting people to higher ground,” Ironeyes said.
Ironeyes stressed that anyone who comes should be prepared to be self-sufficient. Temperatures on the North Dakota plains during this time of year are brutally cold — the Lakota people wouldn’t typically inhabit the area during the winter if not for the resistance movement. The water protecters on site can help provide warm shelter and food for visiting protesters.
Ironeyes said his organization is still helping to make housing arrangements for would-be protesters who want to travel to North Dakota. Otherwise, there are ways to support the demonstrators from home, including donating money to alleviate legal funds and supplies to keep keep people warm.
After all, winter is here, and — like Trump — it’s not going away any time soon.
I have questions about what the law enforcement officers are doing at Standing Rock. The native reservations are sovereign territory with their own law enforcement and laws. How can it be legal for White law enforcement to go onto their land and burn their tipis down?
I continue to admire to determination of the water protectors to follow their inner truth. Not even the cold winter temperatures can deter them from their stated mission to protect their land and to protect the water. The water protectors. How can we say thank you for the huge gift they are giving to the American people? When you pray, however you pray, ask for protection for the water protectors and good health, ask that the white law enforcement run into many problems that will keep them from hassling the native people.
For those of you who have already donate money or goods or who may have gone to Dakota, thank you and may God bless you in a special way. It is 2017 and America and indeed the world seems to be challenged about what our values really are. What our ethics and moral are. Are we willing to give them up for money or power? I say from the numbers of us who have marched, postcarded, called the Senate and the House and plan to do more in the days and weeks ahead that we are willing to fight and to stand up for all Americans. We stand up for the native people, the Muslims, the African Americans, the disabled, the Jewish people, women and the LGBT community. All of these wonderful Americans have terrific families that we are fighting to save. Here is to all American families. No exclusions.
Pipeline Spills 176,000 Gallons of Oil Into Creek 150 Miles From Dakota Access Protests
byTOM DICHRISTOPHER, CNBC
A pipeline leak has spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek roughly two and a half hours from Cannon Ball, where protesters are camped out in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline.
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes, as well as environmentalists from around the country, have fought the pipeline project on the grounds that it crosses beneath a lake that provides drinking water to native Americans. They say the route beneath Lake Oahe puts the water source in jeopardy and would destroy sacred land.
North Dakota officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into the Ash Coulee Creek. State environmental scientist Bill Suess says a landowner discovered the spill on Dec. 5 near the city of Belfield, which is roughly 150 miles from the epicenter of the Dakota Access pipeline protest camps
The leak was contained within hours of the its discovery, Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline, told CNBC.
It’s not yet clear why electronic monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak, Owen told the Asssociated Press.
Owen said the pipeline was shut down immediately after the leak was discovered. The pipeline is buried on a hill near Ash Coulee creek, and the “hillside sloughed,” which may have ruptured the line, she said.
“That is our number one theory, but nothing is definitive,” Owen said. “We have several working theories and the investigation is ongoing.”
Last week, the Army Corp of Engineers said it would deny Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners the easement it needs to complete the final stretch of the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline. United States Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy said the best path forward was to explore alternative routes for the pipeline, something Energy Transfer Partners says it will not do.
Energy Transfer Partners says the Dakota Access pipeline would include safeguards such as leak detection equipment and that workers monitoring the pipeline remotely in Texas could close valves within three minutes if a breach is detected.
Republican President-elect Donald Trump has voiced support for the Dakota Access Pipeline. About 5,000 people are still occupying land near the planned construction site.
The 6-inch steel Belle Fourche pipeline is mostly underground but was built above ground where it crosses Ash Coulee Creek, Suess said. Owen said the pipeline was built in the 1980s and is used to gather oil from nearby oil wells to a collection point.
Suess said the spill migrated almost 6 miles from the spill site along Ash Coulee Creek, and it fouled an unknown amount of private and U.S. Forest Service land along the waterway. The creek feeds into the Little Missouri River, but Seuss said it appears no oil got that far and that no drinking water sources were threatened. The creek was free-flowing when the spill occurred but has since frozen over.
About 60 workers were on site Monday, and crews have been averaging about 100 yards daily in their cleanup efforts, he said. Some of the oil remains trapped beneath the frozen creek.
Suess says about 37,000 gallons of oil have been recovered.
“It’s going to take some time,” Suess said of the cleanup. “Obviously there will be some component of the cleanup that will go toward spring.”
True Cos. has a history of oil field-related spills in North Dakota and Montana, including a January 2015 pipeline break into the Yellowstone River. The 32,000-gallon spill temporarily shut down water supplies in the downstream community of Glendive, Montana, after oil was detected in the city’s water treatment system.
True Cos. operates at least three pipeline companies with a combined 1,648 miles of line in Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, according to information the companies submitted to federal regulators. Since 2006, the companies have reported 36 spills totaling 320,000 gallons of petroleum products, most of which was never recovered.
A major oil spill just 150 miles from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota has validated the concerns of those who spoke out against the project for months, activists said.
State officials estimate that more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil has leakedfrom the Belle Fourche Pipeline over the past week into the Ash Coulee Creek in western North Dakota. A landowner discovered the spill near the town of Belfield on Dec. 5, according to Bill Suess, an environmental scientist with the North Dakota Health Department.
The leak was contained within hours of its discovery, Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos., which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline, told CNBC.
But when news of the spill reached the Oceti Sakowin Camp — where thousands have protested the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline for months — activists said they felt vindicated.
One of the protesters’ central arguments for months has been that, despite assurances from Energy Transfer Partners — the Dallas-based company funding the $3.7 billion project — an oil spill would be inevitable.
And the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe believes that a spill would devastate the Missouri River, which is the main water source for the tribe.
For Tara Houska, a Native American environmental activist who has resided at the camp since August, the oil spill was “yet another example of what happens when you have lax regulations written by oil companies and their patrons.”
“The spill gives further credence to our position that pipelines are not safe,” said Houska, National Campaigns Director for Honor the Earth, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness and financial support for indigenous environmental justice. “Oil companies’ interest is on their profit margins, not public safety.”
In an interview last month, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren told NBC News that he could not assure the tribe that an oil spill could not potentially occur. Warren would only say that the Dakota Access Pipeline was prepared to withstand such an event.
Warren said the pipeline would cross 90-115 feet below Lake Oahe, a large Missouri River reservoir, with double walled and remote-controlled shutoff valves on each side of the crossing.
A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners declined to comment for this article.
“They can say they have all the latest technologies to safeguard against a leak,” Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II told NBC News. “But when that leak happens, and it will, all those safeguards will go out the window.”
Archambault said he relayed his concerns to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday night, their first one-on-one meeting since the protests began last summer.
Dallas Goldtooth, a member of the Dakota Nation who has been at the camp off-and-on since August, told NBC News that the pipeline spill upstream “shows everyone the necessity to examine not only the Dakota Access Pipeline but all fossil-fuel energy infrastructure development.”
“This should spur us to act,” said Goldtooth. “This should encourage everyone who believes in protecting Mother Earth that we need to examine and critique every fossil fuel project that’s being put on the table.”
Allison Renville, an activist from the Lakota nation, was less circumspect. “We’re winning,” she told NBC News.
“The spill at Bel Fourche, again, is proof that we’re right,” said Renville. “It validates our struggle.”
For all of the naysayers who have ridiculed the native people and their concern about the water, here is just what they have been trying to avoid. Another pipeline leak and one near their camp. A couple of months ago there was one in Alabama. After the initial announcement, we didn’t hear any more about it.
What about our water in both of these situations? Talking to the EPA and finding out about about your water may be something you want to do before the Inauguration. Trump will probably destroy the agency. We are at a serious impasse with our environment here on our planet and here in America. Here it is made more dangerous by Trump and his denying of science. Yet we have the entire city of Flint, Michigan that has not had clean drinking water for at least the last two years. Congress is just now appropriating money for Flint.
We need to continue to give the native people our support and prayers that this stand off at Standing Rock comes to an appropriate end for the people and the land. I stand with Standing Rock.
Judge to consider completion of Dakota pipeline in February
WASHINGTON — A federal judge Friday set a tentative court hearing for February in the Dakota Access pipeline’s bid to force the government to approve finishing the contested project.
Citing losses of $20 million a week, David Debold, an attorney for pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, said that without a expedited decision the matter could “drag out forever” after construction was halted Sunday by the Obama administration.
U.S. District Judge James Boasberg acknowledged that the company’s challenge could be rendered moot following next month’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, whose incoming administration has expressed support for the fraught project, which for months has been shadowed by protests involving the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
Last weekend, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would not approve an easement for the pipeline to cross a reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota at the Standing Rock reservation, where protesters have been camped. The contested portion represents the final section of the 1,172-mile line.
“None of us have any idea of whether the incoming administration will make this matter moot,” Boasberg told a packed courtroom, which included a number of protesters who traveled to D.C. for the hearing and a demonstration scheduled for Saturday.
“They are desperate to get this pipeline under the river,” said DiDi Banerji, 51, who serves as a nurse at the protest camp. “We are worried about what a change in administration could do. If Trump approves this, the (protest) actions are going to start again.”
Demonstrators greet each other near the entrance of the Oceti Sakowin camp as “water protectors” continue demonstrations against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline continue near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 2, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
While our native people decide whether to stay or leave the Standing Rock, the courts are looking at what they will decide after the New Year and Trump is inaugurated. Can and will the court be and/or remain neutral after Trump is in office, we can only guess. It is my hope that the insanity that surrounds Trump will not reach into the judicial branch.
My heart goes out to the native people because they have all worked so hard and have endured so much from weather, to water canons, to rubber bullets and law enforcement making rude comments. They have had to leave their homes and comforts. I am sure in a moment of complete honesty they would miss their beds, showers and kitchens. Would they conduct the protests again? I am sure they would and I am sure that if they leave, they will return to protest.
They are America’s water protectors and their sacred land is of utmost important to them. I think that the rest of America needs to really think about this and the importance of water to the life and health of all Americans. Think about what has happened to the city of Flint, Michigan and its residents. For two years, children and adults have become ill and were hospitalized and have suffered unnecessarily. Suffered because they didn’t have access to safe clean water. Here in America.
The native people are Americas’ water protectors and they are mine and I hope your heroes. They took a stand and they put their actions where their words were. There was no hypocrisy. These descendents of the original people, that we murdered and put on reservations have shown us how to be authentic Americans. I will always stand with them in pride.