• Liz Venerable

Three Years Down the Pipeline

Photo courtesy of TimeDot.com

After three years of negotiations, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe clash.

In August 2016, ReZpect our Water, a group organized by members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, brought a petition to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (UACE) in Washington, D.C. The petition was to stop Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, from bulldozing 40 miles of land around Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

The bulldozers arrived in North Dakota within a day of the Standing Rock Sioux filing legal action against Energy Transfer Partners. The Dakota Access Pipeline project first held informational hearings for landowners in South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Illinois between August 2014 and January 2015.

The 40 miles of land around Lake Oahe is a sacred burial ground and a source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux.

According to the Dakota Access Pipeline website, Dakota Access Pipeline is a 1,134-mile-long underground U.S. oil pipeline for crude oil.

The underground pipeline will run from the Bakken oil fields in Northwest North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa before ending in Patoka, Illinois.

Energy Transfer Partners applied for a permit in January 2015. Iowa was the last state to grant a permit. However, most of the land Energy Transfer Partners had permits for were from the use of eminent domain, which is the right of a government to expropriate private property for public use with payment of compensation.

Photo courtesy of truthdig.com

On September 3, 2016, Energy Transfer Partners brought in a private security firm to secure the land they were bulldozing. When the protesters moved in to stop the bulldozers, the guards used pepper spray and guard dogs to attack. According to rezpectourwater.com, at least six protesters were treated for dog bites and about 30 protesters were pepper sprayed before the security guards left.

The protest drew national attention with over 700,000 views and 10,000 shares on Facebook.

The protest gained even more notoriety when the Obama administration stepped in to stop Energy Transfer Partners from further construction.

Photo courtesy of PBS.com

The Obama administration released a statement stating, “Construction would halt until we can do more environmental assessments.”

The Department of Justice, the U.S. Army and the Interior Department also jointly announced, “Construction would pause on the pipeline near North Dakota's Lake Oahe, a major water source on the Missouri River.” The agencies will now decide whether they need to reconsider permitting decisions for the pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Videos from the September 3 protest resemble images from the civil rights movement of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Still, the historical parallels run much deeper, to the original sins of this nation, because the reservation is where the Native Americans were told to live after their lands was taken by others.

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