All posts by Charlie Hurst

Standing Rock Camp Closures Turn Heads Toward Other Pipeline Battles

As oil begins to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), many of us are left with a sense of sorrow over the conclusion of the Standing Rock movement. The gritty battle absorbed many of us into the fight for indigenous sovereignty, as we stood to free sacred land from the toxic veins that bring life to the oil industry.

There are 31,814 miles of pipeline under proposal or construction in North America. That’s enough to stretch around the world, and it’s an expensive investment in an industry that is not set to last longer than 50 years.  As the global importance of oil is declining, the US and its neighbors must look toward renewable energy sources, while also decreasing our dependence on oil through litigation and demonstration.

It is therefore crucial that we examine the Standing Rock movement in a critical manner to understand its faults and successes: what we did right, what we can learn from, and what we can do next. The fight against pipelines across the U.S. and Canada is very much alive, with several grassroots organizations, like Society of Native Nations or Indigenous Environmental Network, working to halt their construction.

For those of you looking for more information regarding the fight against the treacherous black snake across Turtle Island, we have included a list of pipelines and the respective water protectors opposing them. As the fight is constantly changing, the list may not represent all movements and pipelines.

Two Rivers Camps (Texas) – Trans-Peco Pipeline

The Texas-based oil company Energy Transfers Partners, the parent company of DAPL, has nearly completed construction of the Trans-Peco pipeline: a 42-inch diameter pipeline that stretches over 140-miles. The Two Rivers Camp in Alpine, TX — part of the Society of Native Nations — began protesting Dec. 30th, 2016, and members will likely continue until the fight is over.

The Lancaster Stand (Pennsylvania) – Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is project of Oklahoma-based Williams Partners. The pipeline is an expansion of the Transco system, which incorporates over 10,000 miles of pipeline, and moves gas to power plants and other businesses. The $3 billion project is still awaiting permits from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Currently, there is a camp of water protectors along the Conestoga River in Southern Lancaster County called the Lancaster Stand.

Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp (New Jersey) – Pilgrim Pipeline and AIM Pipeline

The Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp was erected in Oct. 2016 and is led by the Ramapough Lenape Nation. As Ramapough means “sweetwater”, members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation treat the waters of northeastern New Jersey as a sacred entity which serves as a place of worship. The Pilgrim pipeline, a bi-directional behemoth consisting of two side by side pipelines to carry crude oil, threatens the sanctity of the culture’s water supply and spirituality. Spectra Energy is also planning to build the AIM pipeline which would run natural gas under the Hudson river from Rockland County, NY to Westchester County, NY. While the pipelines are still in the early stages of development, the Split Rock Sweetwater Camp is spreading awareness and gaining support for their cause.

ET Rover Pipeline (Michigan)

Energy Transfer began construction in March on a 710 mile long project, called the Rover pipeline, that would run from natural gas processing plants in West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania to the Midwest for delivery to local businesses. While no indigenous groups have directly stood up in opposition to the pipeline, a few coalitions of concerned citizens have organized against the pipeline but have yet to establish a camp.

Nexus Pipeline (Ohio, Michigan)

The 250-mile long Nexus pipeline under development from DTE Energy and Spectra Energy, is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC). While no camps have been established, a few organizations unrelated to indigenous tribes have organized against the pipeline, such as No Pipelies, No to the Nexus Pipeline, and CAN-Coalition Against Nexus. The pipeline is still awaiting approval from FERC, but the committee is unable to vote on the pipeline to due a lack of quorum.  

Klamath Falls (Oregon) – Pacific Connector Pipeline

The Pacific Connector pipeline has been proposed by the Apache Corporation, EOG Resources, and Encana, and is currently in the pre-filing stages with FERC. If completed, it would travel from Malin, Oregon to the Jordan Cove LNG terminal in Coos Bay. The 235-mile pipeline would cross directly under Klamath River and would cross several national forests. The project has met opposition from various groups including the Klamath Justice Coalition, the Klamath River Keepers, and Sacred Seeds. The greater Klamath Falls region has been held sacred by the Klamath Tribes and the pipeline would threaten their cultural and natural resources. Currently there are no encampments, but the Klamath Tribes, as well as non-native organizations, are very proactive in maintaining a firm hand in opposing the pipeline.

Coalition of Woodland Nations (Virginia) – Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Atlantic Coast pipeline is being constructed by the company Atlantic — a conglomerate of Dominion, Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas. There are currently a large number of groups standing against the pipeline, with Coalition of Woodland Nations being a representative of over 40 eastern Native tribes who stand in opposition to the project. Shenandoah Valley Network has provided information on other groups that are non-native but working alongside indigenous organizations. Currently there are no active camps but many of the groups have previously held rally’s and are expected to continue protesting. The natural gas transmission line threatens national forests and water sources in the Shenandoah Valley Region and will lead to further environmental degradation.

Oak Flats (Arizona) – Apache Stronghold

Oak flats, located in Arizona, is an area of land sacred to the Apache. The land is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a site rich in ancient petroglyphs. The area is threatened by foreign mining companies who wish to buy the land from the federal government. However, the Apache Stronghold is standing in their way by demonstrating their opposition through recurring peaceful protests and with their upcoming march to Washington DC on July 5th. This is another attempt from the federal government to exploit native lands for sheer greed and profit. Losing Oak Flats would be a loss of cultural heritage, as well as anthropological history.

Unist’ot’en Camp (BC, Canada) – Pacific Trails Pipeline

The Pacific Trail Pipeline is part of the Kitimat LNG Project, backed by Chevron and Woodside Energy International. The Pacific Trails pipeline, PTP for short, is a 300 mile pipeline that would move shale gas from the Liard and Horn River basins in Southeast Yukon to an LNG facility at Bish Cove, British Columbia. The PTP would run through Unist’ot’en Clan territory and the project would threaten their water and environment as well as their sovereignty. Unist’ot’en Camp was erected in 2009 in response to the proposed pipeline and is still actively protesting against it. The pipeline was originally expected to be operational by then end of 2015, but has been slowed by unwavering opposition.

Lax U’u’la Camp (BC, Canada) – Pacific Northwest LNG Facility

Pacific Northwest LNG “project” is a process facility on Lelu Island, British Columbia, that would receive liquefied natural gas from the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Pipeline (PRGT). The facility would liquefy and export natural gas produced by Progress Energy Canada Ltd. Both Progress Energy Canada and Pacific Northwest LNG are majority owned by PETRONAS, a Malaysian multinational corporation. Currently, there is a camp on Lelu island prevently the construction of the facility named Camp Lax U’u’la. Campers have been occupying the island since Aug. 2015 to thwart construction plans. If built, the pipeline would consume 75-80% of B.C.’s total allowed emissions under its new 2050 climate target and would also lead to further deterioration of precious forest life.

Oka Lawa Camp (Oklahoma) – Diamond Pipeline

On Apr. 14th, 2017, the organization Arkansas Rising established the Oka Lawa Camp in response to the Diamond pipeline. The 440-mile long pipeline would run from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee and would carry over 200,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The Oka Lawa Camp is still young but is expected to grow in size. The Diamond pipeline would cross 500 waterways and 11 watersheds used for drinking.

Puyallup Tribe – Port of Tacoma (Washington)

Washington’s Puyallup Tribe has begun protesting the proposed site of a LNG plant that would process fracked gas. The 30-acre site of the planned Puget Sound Energy plant sits right between the boundaries of the Puyallup Tribe reservation, putting the plant in extreme proximity to homes. This energy project puts residents at serious risk of health problems from pollution. The Puyallup Tribe has not formed a water protector camp but is expected to continue protesting as project planning persists.

Cheyenne River Powwow Grounds (North Dakota) – Keystone XL

The battle over Keystone XL has been long anticipated as whispers begin to circulate of what will become the next large pipeline fight. The Cheyenne River Powwow Grounds are now hosting supporters of the movement, under the approval of Cheyenne River Sioux tribal chairman Harold Frazier. The TransCanada pipeline would stretch from Alberta down to the gulf coast and resembles more of a sewer than an actual pipeline. Keystone XL would also cross over 1,000 streams, rivers, aquifers, and bodies of water including Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer, the largest underground aquifer in the country, which provides over 400 million gallons of drinking water and 30% of the nation’s irrigation water.

With a spotlight on pipelines and their threat to clean water and indigenous sovereignty, we will continue to update on major developments. Keep informed on the latest pipeline news by following our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. To support our work defending water protectors facing felonies, donate to our legal fund.