All posts by Jared Semana

DAPL Completion Imminent, Resistance Remains Steady

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
http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/DAPL-Oil-To-Start-Flowing-By-March-20th.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/oil-flow-dakota-access-pipeline-standing-rock_us_58c87930e4b09e52f5545d61

Washington March Details: Quotes from water protectors
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/standing-rock-tribe-takes-dapl-protest-washington-170310032032028.html

Legal battles waning
http://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Judge-refuses-to-plug-DAPL-oil-flow-416239443.html

Iowa Farmers resisting the pipeline
http://whotv.com/2017/03/16/dapl-protesters-file-appeal-to-iowa-supreme-court/

SF divests
http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2017/03/14/san-francisco-moves-to-divest-1-2b-from-companies-financing-dakota-access-pipeline/

Norway’s public sector unions divest
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Standing-Rock-Yet-Another-Major-Divestment-From-DAPL-20170315-0005.html

Costs of repression 38 million
http://www.ktvq.com/story/34938129/north-dakota-weighs-options-on-paying-for-dapl-protests

San Francisco closer to divesting $10B cash flow from Bank of America and $1B investments by Jacqueline Fielder

 

 

^ read this and edit accordingly

Courts Stand With Oil, Resistance Remains as Evacuation Deadline Looms

In response to the President’s executive order green-lighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, activists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have pursued legal action in the courts on Monday in Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, Judge Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled against the tribe and in favor of the companies constructing the pipeline. According to AP,  Judge Boasberg  stated that “as long as oil isn’t flowing through the pipeline, there is no imminent harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes,”

This argument, however, seems irrational given that once the pipeline is built, oil will flow through it:oil that will leak into the ground, oil that will poison the groundwater, Lake Oahe, and the surrounding rivers.

If and when this happens, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is left without a backup solution for clean drinking water.

In court, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their legal team made the argument that the pipeline would endanger their  water supply and sacred cultural sites. They added a religious freedom component to their case last week, arguing that clean water is essential to practice the Sioux religion.

According to Reuters, Chase Iron Eyes, LPLP attorney and an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, responded to the ruling, saying:”We’re disappointed with today’s ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised.”

It seems as though the practices of the tribe’s culture and religion are inconsequential to the judge presiding over the case. It is also worth noting that Judge Boasberg has ruled on a matter concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline in September of last year,  ruling in favor of the companies citing the tribe’s efforts and relationship to the government as “contentious and tragic”. The Obama administration blocked that ruling with the executive order to conduct the prolonged environmental study.

In other recent news, veterans groups, such as Veterans Respond and Veterans Stand continue to travel to North Dakota to stand in solidarity with water protectors on the ground there, notably in Sacred Stone camp at the invitation of landowner LaDonna Brave Bull Allard.

Local law enforcement has made it difficult for these veteran groups to join Standing Rock in their struggle by pulling over members of the group and searching their vehicles.

The executive director of Veterans Respond, Mark Sanderson, told the Guardian I’m honestly disgusted. It makes no sense to us. Why are you trying to attack a group of veterans doing nothing more than a humanitarian aid mission in North Dakota?”

Outside of Standing Rock, efforts around pressuring different bodies to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline continue around the country.

The city council of Davis, CA moved to divest from the Wells Fargo, which is a main financier of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The entire portfolio included a grand sum of $30 million. This move has been part of a movement across the country in an effort to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock by divesting from institutions that are invested in the construction of the pipeline. Mayor Davis released this statement to the press: “Our decision to divest is based both on Wells Fargo’s decision to invest in the DAPL, but also because they have engaged in business practices that we find are inconsistent with our City’s values,”

In Seattle, WA activists have pressured the city council to divest from Wells Fargo in response to the bank’s funding of the pipeline. The city, with a unanimous vote from the city council, decided to divest the entirety of their annual $3 billion business from Wells Fargo. Activists are now moving on to pressuring the city to divest city employee’s pension funds from fossil fuels.

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant had this to say about the issue to her constituents,“The city pension fund has $2.5 billion in fossil fuels (investments) and we are demanding that we divest from that. This is the next step. We have to strike while the iron is hot!”

In Minneapolis, organizers from the local chapter of climate activist group 350.org marched to persuade U.S. Bank CEO, Richard Davis, to assist in pressuring U.S. Bank to divest the $275 million in credit that was given to companies constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The fight to protect water goes on in the hearts of water protectors across the country, and as the 2 p.m. on Wednesday deadline looms for evacuation the situation becomes more dire. The Army Corps, the National Parks Service,  officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Federal Police have staged roadblocks restricting access into the main camp, Oceti Sakowin. It is especially worth noting that officials are restricting access to the camp even to the press.

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’s last stand. You can contact your representatives and tell them to stand against DAPL at lakotalaw.org.dapl-action. You can also donate to our legal defense fund to help build the case for water protectors facing felony charges at lakotalaw.org/legalfund.

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Judge ruled against the tribe saying there was no damage yet, “exceedingly tardy”, will file for appeals court.

New Wave of Protests after Trump Signs Executive Action for DAPL Completion

President Donald Trump has given the green light to streamline construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. His decision is not surprising given that his cabinet picks are full of pro-oil candidates like Exxon Mobil executive Rex Tillerson and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.  

The pipeline construction in its current proposition has been found to understate the risks posed by landslides and amount of safety construction to contain spills. Such spills are most likely going to poison groundwater that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe needs to sustain itself. If the pipeline construction is complete, Standing Rock could be the next Flint, where residents have to use bottled water for daily use.

This executive action overturns all the work water protectors have made recently under the Obama administration, and which is unfortunate because the Standing Rock Sioux tribe formally asked the encampments to disperse on Friday, January 20th according to Reuters. While Archambault stated that the fight is now in the courts, the tribe needs support and solidarity now more than ever.

This unfortunate turn of events overshadows the recent victory of the water protectors in the North Dakota Supreme Court, which allowed for out-of-state lawyers to represent the over 600 protesters that have been arrested so far . With arrests still ongoing, this number is likely to rise.

President Trump’s actions have not fallen on deaf ears, however. Various representatives of environmental groups and civil rights groups, including the ACLU and the Sierra Club, have all voiced their opposition to this revival of pipeline construction.

Activists like Chase Iron Eyes, Lead Attorney for the Lakota People’s Law Project, have been especially active in standing against these actions. On Facebook posted:

Fighters, brothers and sisters. Come. Heed the call to defend this country against all enemies, foreign & domestic. We shall find out who loves this land, who is loyal to the water and who is a traitor to this land, to our water.”

Protests have also occurred in New York outside of Trump Tower and Trump International Hotel—attendance numbering in the hundreds—to show the President that these actions will not go on without consequence.

As the situation intensifies, people are again diverting their attention to the confrontation in Standing Rock. Chairman of the United Nations (UN) Working Group on the issue of Human Rights, Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, Pavel Sulyandziga, and Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild, member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, have both arrived in North Dakota. These two gentlemen will be joined by representatives of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) as well as the ACLU Human Rights Program who participated in a human rights training workshop on Sunday January 22nd.

The water protectors still have a long battle ahead of them. In addition to the frigid weather, the state of North Dakota has introduced bills that make it illegal to wear masks at protests and for people to join the resistance camps  under threat of being fined $5,000 dollars.  Oh but what the North Dakota assembly attempted to make legal, by way of a bill introduction, is the “unintentional” mowing down of protesters being fast moving vehicles.

If these actions are not enough to make you cringe, the Trump administration denied a request by Dave Archambault II to engage in dialogue about moving forward with the oil pipeline. If the President is not even willing to hear both sides of the issue he is essentially declaring what side he stands for.

The fight to protect the water rights and the livelihoods of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is far from over. We must remain vigilant in this crucial time and do everything we can to stand in solidarity with those who have vowed to protect the land, tribal sovereignty, and clean water.

Please add your comment to the Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Impact Statement at lakotalaw.org.dapl-action before the filing period ends on Feb. 20.