Dakota Pipeline protest

About an hour south of Bismarck, North Dakota, protests against the production of a new oil pipeline through Native tribal land is being countered. Self-proclaimed “water protectors,” and supporters of the Standing Rock Tribe, have set up camp on the land that was acquitted to the tribe under a 19th-century treaty. Accompanying the the supporters on this land are police officers, decked out in riot gear, that have arrested a total of 117 protesters in the quiet state of North Dakota.

A month ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applied for permits that would grant them access to install a pipeline across the Missouri River, which the Standing Rock Tribe stated to be a “high risk that culturally and historically significant sites will be damaged or destroyed.” They were also concerned about possible damage to the supply of drinking water.


Image from huffingtonpost.com

According to the Huffington Post,  “The tribe asked for a temporary injunction against construction.” However, in early September, a federal judge denied the injunction, and ordered the construction to proceed.

This ruling sparked an outrage amongst tribal land conservationists, beginning a long protest. Now the protesters are requesting the entire construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline be stopped, and placed on a different route, rather than the original route, spanning from North Dakota to Illinois, carrying 500,00 barrels of crude oil a day.


Image from think progress.org

Due to a significant number of pipeline-related incidents in recent years, the people living on this land are apprehensive about another pipeline being built on their sacred ground. Doug Hayes, a staff attorney at the Sierra Club told the Huffington Post, “These pipelines are often seeping or leaking in small places, and we don’t have any way to detect them. These are the types of concerns the tribes have, and they’re, frankly, very well-founded.”

As of Friday, November 4th, the U.S. department of Justice, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior announced a “voluntary pause” on all construction within 20 miles of Lake Oahe, a lake the pipeline would be built under.


Image from huffingtonpost.com

The joint statement from the departments states, “The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws…In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.”

As of this writing, there is still a protest going on. Even though the government has issued the injunction around Lake Oahe, they have still not agreed to meet tribal demands.

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