The water protectors of Dakota have been protesting against the Dakota Access Pipeline construction for many months. This Sunday, they celebrated a major victory as the Army Corps of Engineers announced that the proposed pipeline would no longer run through the reservation. This announcement came as a breath of fresh air to the Native Americans and allies who have been protesting at the Standing Rock for more than a month. This is a win to their protest for their fundamental right to clean water.
What is the Dakota Access pipeline?
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project of transporting crude oil from the Bakken oil field in North Dakota to a refinery in Patoka, Illinois, near Chicago, a distance of 1886 km.
Who are the protesters and why are the opposed to it?
The protestors or the ‘water protectors,’ are the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe and thousands of Native Americans and allies including some big names like Tulsi Gabbard, Bernie Sanders, and Mark Ruffalo. The protectors set up camps in Cannon Ball to oppose the oil project because it threatens the sacred native lands and could contaminate their water supply from the Missouri river, which is the longest river in North America. The activists argue that the pipeline is no less dangerous than the now defeated Keystone XL- TransCanada’s proposal to funnel oil from Alberta’s tar sands to refineries in the United States. And Alberta’s tar sands have the ‘dirtiest oil’ on planet, which means it needs burning of more fossil fuels to extract it leading to emission of more carbon than the environment can handle. It is high time global leaders understood that there are certain things we just cannot afford to do when the earth is going through a crisis. We cannot dig up the earth and produce more carbon than the atmosphere can stand. And, we definitely cannot claim that climate change is a hoax.
Tribal leaders, in their statements, mentioned that the US Army Corps of Engineers decided on constructing the DAPL without consulting tribal governments and without a thorough research of its impacts. It means that the pipeline violated federal law and native treaties with the US government.
Sunday brought with itself a sense of jubilation to the activists as it was declared the pipeline would not run through this course. The Standing Rock Sioux released its statement stating their gratitude towards the Obama administration and those who were involved in the historic decision. “We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II said in a statement as reported by CBC. “The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.”