DAPL Victory For the Standing Rock Sioux
On Sunday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they have denied the Energy Transfer Crude Oil, LLC permit for an easement of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) to cross under the Missouri River in North Dakota. Not only is the land for the planned pipeline sacred ground, but also constructing the pipeline would permanently contaminate that water supply. This conflict between Energy Transfer (the company responsible for constructing the pipeline) and water protectors of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, is anchored in protecting this body of water.
The tribe chairman Dave Archambault II, stated unequivocally that, “nothing else but a reroute of the pipeline would keep them from the land that they are currently occupying. Between 5,000 and 8,000 people worldwide have joined the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux water protectors.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivered the following statement on the Army’s DAPL decision in a YouTube video: “For the past several months, the Justice Department has been monitoring the situation in North Dakota closely… We continue to support the protestors constitutional rights to free speech.” Lynch continued, “violence is never the answer.” This comment is troubling coming from the nation’s highest law enforcement official. It gives the impression that water protectors (she refers to as protestors) have been violent or would become violent.
They have been the model of peace, despite being shot with rubber bullets, fire hoses, beaten with batons, and having police dogs attack them. The only violent party has been law enforcement officials from a dozen states attempting to remove the water protectors from the land. Lynch closed her remarks with a message of unity, asserting, “[the Justice Department] will remain committed to working with all stakeholders to enforce the law, to maintain the peace, and to reach a just solution to this challenging situation.”
According to Energy Transfer, “The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the rapidly expanding Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.” The Army Corps of Engineers announcement means Energy Transfer must either challenge this decision in court or find a new path for the pipeline if they intend to continue construction.
While today's decision is vital to the longterm goal of protecting land and water, the battle is not over. It should be noted, President-elect Trump has a financial interest in Energy Transfer Crude Oil, LLC. His administration may be directed to pressure officials to reverse this decision. While using the office of the presidency in that fashion would amount to a Constitutional violation, Trump does not seemed concerned with such restrictions.
This victory is worthy of celebration, but members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe should remain vigilant in their protection efforts.