Two pipelines; one history
Dakota Pipeline awakes fear in the hearts
Humans are recognized for being stubborn and unwary when it comes to learning from past defeats. The current and shaky history of the economies and policies of the United States of America is no exception to this rule.
Not only have we consciously repeated the same political judgments over and over again, but we have also forgotten that history is often corroborated factually.
Nixon and the TAPS
In November 1973, President Nixon stated that "America's energy requirements had exceeded its production capacity," urging Congress to pass a Senate Bill that would later be known as the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline Authorization Act, In a sovereign argument against the "dangerous dependence on foreign oil."
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) covers the crude pipeline that transports from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska. It has a length of 800 miles, 12 pumping stations and hundreds of thousands of feed pipes.
Although the project was endorsed by the promise to be operated “under the most rigid environmental safeguards ever devised”, President Nixon did asked Congress not to attach “amendments to the bill that would have given federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Game regulatory power over the pipeline’s construction”.
The opposition to construction of the pipeline came from Alaska Native groups and conservationists, claiming that the pipeline would cross the land “traditionally claimed by a variety of native groups” and an incursion into America’s last wilderness. This opposition managed to prevent the construction of the pipeline from 1970 to 1973.
The Alaska Federation of Natives (1966) hired jurist Arthur Goldberg who suggested the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that included 40 million acres of land and a payment of $500 million. President Nixon finally signed the Act where Native groups “could renounce their land claims” in exchange for $962.5 million and 148.5 million acres in federal land. The most important aspect of the Act was the clause “dictating that no Native allotments could be selected in the path of the pipeline”.
The impact on the environment has been severe through notable incidents of leakage, caused either by sabotage, maintenance failures or bullet holes.
On 2016 history has decided to repeat itself.
An oil pipeline project was formulated in 2014 and signed by Dakota Access, LLC (a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas Corporation Energy Transfer Partners, L.P). Its path begins in the Bakken oil fields in Northwest North Dakota and would travel through South Dakota and Iowa, ending at an oil tank farm near Patoka Illinois.
The project became public in 2014 and it estimates an investment of $3.7 billion, being submitted to the IUB on October 29, 2014. Dakota Access applied for a permit in January 2015.
The permit was granted and included the use of “eminent domain”.
Although the project proposes a carry in excess of 450,000 barrels of oil per day, improving the economic reliability of the Nation – considering the increase in the production of energy and the provision of jobs – once again the opposition came from both sides: The Native American community and the conservationists.
The Dakota Access Pipeline would cross part of Lake Oahe, near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation compounded by Sioux Native Americans. In April 2016, an elder from this tribe established a camp “as a center for cultural preservation and spiritual resistance to the pipeline”. Thousands of people from across the nation and even the world came to join forces with the opposition camp.
The intervention of the United States Army Corps of Engineers only made it worst. After conducting a “limited review” of the route they found no significant impact, without even conducting a full environmental impact assessment that was later on requested by organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency. Disregarding the formal issue, The Army Corps of Engineers approved in July the water crossing permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline under what its known to be a “fast track option”.
The construction continued but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a suit against the Army Corps of Engineers for violating the National Historic Preservation Act.
After several confrontations – especially on September 3, when security workers used attack dogs and pepper spray to disperse the protestors – on November 14, the Army Corps of Engineers said it needed more time to study the impact of the plan.
Energy Transfer Partners blames the Obama Administration for the delay and a passive instigation to public disorder. CEO Kelcy Warren, on the other hand, couldn’t orchestrate a coherent discourse against the public concerns of the Dakota Access Pipeline and its effect’s on the Lake Oahe.
Considering the President-elected economical interests on Warren’s company, we can take for granted that the Native Americans won’t win this time either.
Invoking the Civil Rights
The Protest Movement against the Dakota Pipeline hasn’t been only represented by the incarnation of the primitive spirit from the Elders Council in the Sioux Tribe, but has been fed as well through multiple and simultaneous manifestations across the country.
The Sioux Tribe of the Cheyenne River, The Crow Creek Tribe and the Oglala and Rosebud tribe have joined the protest, as well as the Oklahoma tribes, in a gesture of unconditional support against an open violation to the native cultural patrimony.
On September 8, around 500 Native Americans marched with other protesters in Denver, Colorado. A week later another march was organized in Seattle, with the participation of the city Mayor and the leaders of other tribes like the Quinualt, Makah, Lumni, Tulalip, Swinomish and Puyallup.
According to several national newspapers, on October 13th, the protests counted with the support of 19 cities that declared an unanimous agreement to close ranks around the pipeline.
On November 15th, hunderds of cities coordinated a simultaneous protest called “National Day of Action”, a pacific manifestation on strategic places like Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver and Manhattan. Several detentions happened in North Dakota for the blockage of the railroads.
It was in the same area where the retaliation against the protesters have been more visible and have been intensified with the use of repressive measures like toxic gas and rubber bullets, producing a total of 160 wounded, one of which could lose her arm.
For those skeptical and fatalists, this revival of the protest sentiment and the conflict with the public forces remind them of the Civil Right’s Movement that took place in an époque of fascism in the hands of a government whose cruelty seemed justified. With the transition of power after the 11/08 elections, many foresee a similar circumstance.
According to the Guardian on their article last week:
“Every signal we have from the president-elect points to an administration defined by three core tenets: white supremacy, unprecedented corporate influence and an uptick in state violence. Aside from climate catastrophe, the result could be a disturbing and dystopian new normal, where episodes like the one unfolding in Standing Rock become all too common”.
The return of fear
The epicenter of the economic diatribe is located in Sean McGarvey’s (President of North America’s Building Trades Unions) statement in an interview with the Daily Energy Insider, where he explained that the problem with the delay and the postponement of this kind of projects it’s the ripple effect over the providers, manufacturers and workers. McGravey added that the cost on local energy could be affected as well.
Considering then the record of conflicts between the President-elected Donald J. Trump and Native Americans over territories for Casinos and his support on enterprises like Keystone XL, the sentiment of fear and apprehension has grown among the protesters.
The strategy of the movement right now is to accomplish the abolition of the project before the Obama Administration leaves office.
Known characters like Senator Bernie Sanders and Robert Kennedy Jr. have also manifest their support to the movement, suggesting (in the case of the latter) that the Native Americans are facing a bully.
For Thanks Giving Day, the movement echoed the tradition that reminds this date and organized a ceremony of prayers that hosted twice as many protesters near the pipeline, coming from all over the country. Even Jane Fonda went to a Thanks Giving Dinner near Mandan.
The increase in the cases of racism against Native Americans and the open violation to the rights of sacred land and national reserves, seem to be signs that once the new administration is in office, things will go from bad to worst.
Protests in Philadelphia
(By Jamila Johnson)
Dakota Pipeline is hundreds of kilometers away from Philadelphia, but citizens of our city are angry too.
Last November 16, hundred of protesters gathered at John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to protest against the DAPL, a pipeline that will cross sacred land and burial places of Native Americans and will have a serious environmental impact, according to activists….
The protesters ended a march throughout Center City at JFK to demonstrate a “die in.” Where they lie on the pavement to act out their symbolic deaths as a result of water pollution.
The protests continued on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, as protesters held a vigil. And declared the day a “National Day of Mourning” where the holiday we usually highlight as a time when Native Americans and the pilgrims came together and made peace, the organizers of the group highlight the event as “A day of remembrance of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands, and the relentless assault on Native culture,” as the organizers described it on Facebook.
The event took place with about 60 demonstrators or so lined up on 16th St. near the Thanksgiving celebration parade route. The demonstrators will continue their efforts to raise awareness of about the Dakota Access Pipeline and stand in solidarity with those protesting now, especially as protests on-site have reached a breaking point with the Army Corps ordering protesters off the premises.
Some of the protests have reached a point of no return with the use of water canons and other deterrents to move protesters. “They use water canons on peaceful protestors, by not on rioters?” Ken Russo questioned.
The organizers of local Philadelphia protests are a part of the Philly with Standing Rock - Sioux Defenders group that is described as, “A coalition of Native and non-Natives in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Defenders to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
The group aims to continue protests including a benefit party on December 3 at Summit Church.