What is it?
The Dakota Access Pipeline is being protested by people from all over the world. At Standing Rock, Dakota thousands of protestors have gathered at the construction site which has delayed its progress for many months, particularly The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who have been in protest since 2014, when they found out about the plans
The project is a 1172 mile, pipeline designed to move hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from North Dakota to Illinois every day. The development of fracking has led to billions of tonnes of more oil being ‘available’ to the United States Government. This means MONEY. (read about fracking here)
Although the Obama administration temporarily blocked construction in September to review the situation, the federal court intervened and allowed the project to carry on. (Time)
So, before I get mad, here are a couple of points in defense of the Dakota Pipeline. The builders of this project (Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners) claim that the pipeline isn’t ALL bad. It will reduce rail and truck transportation of oil in order to support domestic demand of a vital product. They also insist they will take extreme measures to protect the environment and use advanced technology to ensure ‘safety and responsibility. (DAPL facts)
By producing their own oil, despite fracking being arguably inefficient and socially and environmentally destructive, the US can be more energy dependent. This can be a politically beneficial situation as they do not need to rely on oil from states in conflict e.g. oil rich nations in the middle east.
The pipeline means big money for the US government which could be argued to be beneficial to society as it is reinvested into the economy, though with inequality continually rising in the US it is debateable as to who will see these benefits, certainly not the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Why the protests?
The pipeline will cross sacred Native American Land, in particular a sacred burial ground which is protecting by treaties dating back to American colonisation. The US government continues to oppress and disregard the voices of the first peoples of America which can be seen as a perpetuation of colonial rule and violence. The pipeline was not consulted with the people that it might affect. (Time)
The risks to these people stem from the fact that the pipeline would tun underneath the Missouri river, the drinking source for 10, 000 Sioux people. This could become contaminated, and therefore pose a risk to food sources, human health and the local flora and fauna. #Waterislife
This protest is not just about protecting land, health and the environment. It is a matter of racism and ruthlessness, with profit being priorotised over the lives and voices of a minority people. For example, white protestors occupying a nature reserve this year were heavily armed but FULLY ACQUITTED. Native American protesters have been arrested, attacked and harassed by police and government officals despite the peaceful nature of their protest, which includes prayer circles and forming human barriers. (CNN)
The response to the protest came to a head last Thursday when protestors camped directly in the line of the proposed pipeline. Military police descended with tasers, rubber bullets and violence, arresting 100 people. (Aljazeera)
Protest camps have continued to grow to attempt to block or slow progress of the pipeline, with some people planning to remain through a winter of -17.8 degrees Celsius. These camps will be expensive to run but global support has been astonishing with a crowd funding page aiming to raise $5000 bringing in $1 million which helps pay for yurts, food, medical bills, legal support and paying for bail. (CBS)
One CNN article claimed that not all Sioux are protesting this pipeline, and that local communities wish people who have travelled all over the world would go away and stop causing conflict, criticising protestors for being a burden to local communities. (CNN)
If like me you consider that claim a load of bollocks and want to support the tribe of Standing Rock to protect the environment, their health and their human rights you can check out this page, which has links to pages where you can donate and petitions you can sign to show your solidarity to the protests.