Photo Credit: Ayşe Gürsöz
The completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline inches closer day by day, but resistance towards this abuse of indigenous rights and water rights passionately continues.
Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), parent company of the pipeline, began drilling in early February right after US Army Corps of Engineers granted the easement. On March 12, attorneys representing ETP said the oil should be flowing through the pipeline between March 20 and March 22, given if final testing is successful. This streamlined attack on the Standing Rock Sioux, the Cheyenne River Sioux, and the Yankton Sioux tribe’s’ water rights have not gone unnoticed.
On March 10th, thousands of Native Americans marched on Washington D.C., as a part of the Native Nations Rise March. Jobeth Brownotter, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said that “we came here to stand up for our people, for water, for our rights, for future generations.”
This is the real truth behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. It affects the lives of indigenous people in a way that is consistent with the history of exploitation, forced removal, and placing economic development at a higher priority than Native lives.
Judge Boasberg, a district judge for the court in Washington D.C. who ruled in favor of Energy Transfer Partners, refused to stop the flow of oil while lawyers for the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux appeal his decision. A “critical factor” for Judge Boasberg in making this decision is that he feels their appeal is unlikely to succeed. He also commented that Energy Transfer Partners would be “substantially harmed” by any kind of delay.
In other words, the profits of Energy Transfer Partners would be harmed by kind of delay.
#NoDAPL protests continue outside of North Dakota. Such is Iowa, the activists’ focus in the state are on the Iowa Supreme Court. The construction of pipeline was approved by the Iowa Utilities Board, an administrative body, and despite being challenged in district court by activists the pipeline was still set to continue.
An attorney for the Iowa Sierra Club, Wally Taylor, commented on the issue: “the courts have over the years come to believe that they basically cannot challenge a decision of the administrative body. That they have to give great deference to the administrative body. That’s not true — they’re a co-equal branch of the government, they’re supposed to be a check and a balance. That’s what we’re asking the Supreme Court to do.” The resistance will continue that state despite legal challenges.
The movement for divestment, similarly, continues to spread nationally and internationally. In San Francisco on March 14, the Board of Supervisors for the Treasurer to review investments regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. It is worth noting that following the testimony from Madonna Thunder Hawk, Tribal Liaison for the Lakota People’s Law Project, the Supervisors voted unanimously on the decision. This is one step closer towards the divestment of a major city in the United States.
Overseas, on the same day, Norway’s public sector employee unions divested their $70 billion pension from four companies involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline citing “an unacceptable risk of contributing to serious or systemic human rights violations.”
Both of these divestment milestones send a message to those constructing the pipeline: we stand with the rights of indigenous peoples.
In North Dakota this week, Highway 1806 has been reopened on March 17th to the general public. Backwater Bridge has been closed since last October due to conflicts between water protectors and police. This will allow for business to continue as usual, and for those on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation it allows for access to the greater Morton County area. Robert Keller, a spokesman for Morton County, also noted that there were water protectors still in the area and as the pipeline nears completion law enforcement will stay wary for any actions that take place.
The fight for water rights and human rights is far from over. Divestment movements and other forms of resistance continue. We stand adamant and ready for what is to come.
Stay tuned on our Facebook page and our Twitter for updates on #NoDAPL and other issues that intersect indigenous rights and environmental justice. You can contact your representatives and tell them to stand against DAPL at lakotalaw.org/nodapl. You can also donate to our legal defense fund to help build the case for water protectors facing felony charges at lakotalaw.org/legalfund.
Dakota oil will flow 3/20
Washington March Details: Quotes from water protectors
Iowa Farmers resisting the pipeline
Norway’s public sector unions divest
Costs of repression 38 million
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