February 22, 2017

Courts Stand With Oil, Resistance Remains as Evacuation Deadline Looms

Jared Semana

In response to the President’s executive order green-lighting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, activists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have pursued legal action in the courts on Monday in Washington D.C.

Unfortunately, Judge Boasberg of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled against the tribe and in favor of the companies constructing the pipeline. According to AP, Judge Boasberg stated that “as long as oil isn’t flowing through the pipeline, there is no imminent harm to the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes,”

This argument, however, seems irrational given that once the pipeline is built, oil will flow through it:oil that will leak into the ground, oil that will poison the groundwater, Lake Oahe, and the surrounding rivers.

If and when this happens, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is left without a backup solution for clean drinking water.

In court, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their legal team made the argument that the pipeline would endanger their water supply and sacred cultural sites. They added a religious freedom component to their case last week, arguing that clean water is essential to practice the Sioux religion.

According to Reuters, Chase Iron Eyes, LPLP attorney and an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, responded to the ruling, saying:”We’re disappointed with today’s ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access Pipeline, but we are not surprised.”

It seems as though the practices of the tribe’s culture and religion are inconsequential to the judge presiding over the case. It is also worth noting that Judge Boasberg has ruled on a matter concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline in September of last year, ruling in favor of the companies citing the tribe’s efforts and relationship to the government as “contentious and tragic”. The Obama administration blocked that ruling with the executive order to conduct the prolonged environmental study.

In other recent news, veterans groups, such as Veterans Respond and Veterans Stand continue to travel to North Dakota to stand in solidarity with water protectors on the ground there, notably in Sacred Stone camp at the invitation of landowner LaDonna Brave Bull Allard.

Local law enforcement has made it difficult for these veteran groups to join Standing Rock in their struggle by pulling over members of the group and searching their vehicles.

The executive director of Veterans Respond, Mark Sanderson, told the Guardian I’m honestly disgusted. It makes no sense to us. Why are you trying to attack a group of veterans doing nothing more than a humanitarian aid mission in North Dakota?”

We’re disappointed with today’s ruling denying a temporary restraining order against the Dakota Access pipeline, but we are not surprised.

– Chase Iron Eyes

Outside of Standing Rock, efforts around pressuring different bodies to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline continue around the country.

The city council of Davis, CA moved to divest from the Wells Fargo, which is a main financier of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The entire portfolio included a grand sum of $30 million. This move has been part of a movement across the country in an effort to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock by divesting from institutions that are invested in the construction of the pipeline. Mayor Davis released this statement to the press: “Our decision to divest is based both on Wells Fargo’s decision to invest in the DAPL, but also because they have engaged in business practices that we find are inconsistent with our City’s values,”

In Seattle, WA activists have pressured the city council to divest from Wells Fargo in response to the bank’s funding of the pipeline. The city, with a unanimous vote from the city council, decided to divest the entirety of their annual $3 billion business from Wells Fargo. Activists are now moving on to pressuring the city to divest city employee’s pension funds from fossil fuels.

City Councilmember Kshama Sawant had this to say about the issue to her constituents,“The city pension fund has $2.5 billion in fossil fuels (investments) and we are demanding that we divest from that. This is the next step. We have to strike while the iron is hot!”

In Minneapolis, organizers from the local chapter of climate activist group 350.org marched to persuade U.S. Bank CEO, Richard Davis, to assist in pressuring U.S. Bank to divest the $275 million in credit that was given to companies constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The fight to protect water goes on in the hearts of water protectors across the country, and as the 2 p.m. on Wednesday deadline looms for evacuation the situation becomes more dire. The Army Corps, the National Parks Service, officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Federal Police have staged roadblocks restricting access into the main camp, Oceti Sakowin. It is especially worth noting that officials are restricting access to the camp even to the press.

The fight for water rights and human rights is far from over. Divestment movements and other forms of resistance continue. We stand adamant and ready for what is to come.

Stay tuned on our Facebook page and our Twitter for updates on #NoDAPL’s last stand. You can also donate to our legal defense fund to help build the case for water protectors facing felony charges at lakotalaw.org/legalfund.