COM26V.com supports #FreeNations, #StandingRock, #NODAPL, #MaunaKea, #ProtectTheAmazon, #UNDRIP, and #IndigenousRising. The Indigenous Rights movement started when Christopher Columbus first landed on the shores of the Americas. Indigenous Peoples worldwide have endured stolen land, arms conflict, murder, rape, genocide, and other hardships imposed by their colonizers. The struggle continues to this day.
The largest modern-day indigenous uprising occurred in early 2016 called the Standing Rock Protests and #NODAPL, and continues to this day under different campaigns and banners.
The Dakota Access Pipeline protests, also called by the hashtag #NoDAPL, were grassroots movements that began in early 2016 in reaction to the approved construction of Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline in the northern United States. The pipeline was projected to run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, as well as under part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Based on ample scientific evidence, many in the Standing Rock tribe and surrounding communities considered the pipeline and its intended crossing beneath the Missouri River to constitute a serious threat to the region’s drinking water, as well as to the water supply used to irrigate surrounding farmlands. The construction was also seen as a direct threat to ancient burial grounds and cultural sites of historic importance.
In April 2016, youth from Standing Rock and surrounding Native American communities organized as a direct action group and social media campaign to stop the pipeline, calling themselves, “ReZpect Our Water”. Inspired by the youth, several adults, including Joye Braun of the Indigenous Environmental Network and tribal historian LaDonna Brave Bull Allard established a water protectors’ camp as a center for direct action, spiritual resistance to the pipeline, cultural preservation, and defense of Indigenous sovereignty.
Over the summer, the youth undertook a cross-country run from Standing Rock to Washington D.C. to raise awareness of the struggle. The #NoDAPL hashtag began to trend on social media and, gradually, the camps at Standing Rock grew to thousands of people. The actions drew considerable national and international attention and were said to be “reshaping the national conversation for any environmental project that would cross the Native American land.”
Attempts to remove the protesters gained a great deal of media attention. In September 2016, construction workers bulldozed a section of privately owned land the tribe had claimed as sacred ground, and when protesters trespassed into the area security workers used attack dogs which bit at least six of the protesters and one horse. The incident was filmed and viewed by several million people on YouTube and other social media. In October 2016, police with riot gear and military equipment cleared an encampment that was directly in the proposed pipeline’s path. In November 2016, police use of water cannons on protesters in freezing weather drew significant media attention.
During the protest, numerous high-profile activists and Congressional Democrats spoke out for the rights of the tribe. Bernie Sanders actively supported the movement and President Obama spoke with tribal leaders and offered his support. Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II, who was himself arrested and strip-searched while protesting, gave numerous interviews explaining the tribe’s positions; he also addressed the tribe’s positions at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.
In December 2016, under President Barack Obama’s administration, the Corps of Engineers denied an easement for construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River. An environmental impact assessment was to be conducted by the Army Corps, but many protesters continued camping on the site, not trusting that the matter was closed.
On January 24, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that reversed the Obama legislation and advanced the construction of the pipeline under “terms and conditions to be negotiated,” expediting the environmental review, which Trump described as an “incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process.”On February 7, 2017, President Trump authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed, ending the environmental impact assessment and the associated public comment period. Following his approval for the completion of the pipeline, the number of protesters gradually decreased and on February 23, 2017, the National Guard and law enforcement officers evicted those that remained. The pipeline was completed by April and its first oil was delivered on May 14, 2017.
The tribe sued and in March 2020 a federal judge sided with them and ordered USACE to do a full environmental impact statement. In a 42-page decision, Judge James Boasberg said the environmental analysis by both the companies behind the pipeline and the Corps was severely lacking. “In projects of this scope, it is not difficult for an opponent to find fault with many conclusions made by an operator and relied on by the agency, but here, there is considerably more than a few isolated comments raising insubstantial concerns.
in a ruling on July 6, 2020, Judge James Boasberg wrote in a court ruling that, “Fearing severe environmental consequences, American Indian Tribes on nearby reservations have sought for several years to invalidate federal permits allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to carry oil under the lake. Today they finally achieve that goal — at least for the time being.”
The judge ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and “glossed over” the devastating consequences of a potential oil spill when it affirmed its 2016 decision to permit the pipeline.
The court ordered the Corps to re-examine the risks of the pipeline and prepare a full environmental impact statement. In the meantime, it ordered the pipeline to be shut down within 30 days — by August 5 at the latest — while a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) takes place.
A full EIA could take years and be subject to further legal challenges — and most significantly, it may be the decision of a new administration to give final approval. In the meantime, time marches on, and every day the pipeline is delayed is a day nearer to the end of the hydrocarbon age.