April 05, 2017

Moving Forward in NoDAPL Fight

Eliza Racine

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) began flowing oil under Lake Oahe on March 27, but this is far from the end in the fight for tribal sovereignty with the battleground moved to the courts. The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes filed numerous lawsuits against the Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access LLC on multiple environmental, cultural, and treaty violations. The main case, which was filed Feb. 14, is expected to be heard in court sometime this May at the soonest.

There is also a call byU.S. Senator Al Franken of Minnesota for answers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) over-extensive examination into the water protectors’ actions via the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). JTTF agents went to three individuals’ homes without warrants for voluntary interviews which were declined.

This poses a major concern for First Amendment rights, as apparently protesting a pipeline that poses a threat to water and life to the FBI has become a national security threat. Franken requested for detailed information about these investigations by April 20.

Another movement on the rise is the Defund DAPL campaign, which urges individuals and cities to divest from the banks supporting the project, and contact the CEOs to withdraw their support. The only banks so far to sell their loans of DAPL is ING from the Netherlands and DNB of Norway. Meanwhile, personal divestments are over $78 million, and city divestments are over $5 billion from Seattle, San Francisco, Davis, Santa Monica, and Alburquerque. Cities like Los Angeles and New York City will likely follow suit if the banks don’t withdraw their support.

The fight against DAPL has also interlaced with the fight against the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, especially as many of the same banks supporting DAPL also support KXL.

The Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN) and North Coast Rivers Alliance (NCRA) filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s executive order to construct KXL with violations of the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, following the same mistakes of DAPL by threatening the environment, the Missouri River, and tribal sovereignty. As both IEN and NCRA state, Trump’s neglectful behavior continues a too-long history of the U.S government’s abuse of tribal rights and damaging the environment “with an addiction to fossil fuels” which are anything but safe when the oil eventually spills.

“The time has come to keep fossil fuels in the ground and shut down risky extreme energy projects like the tar sands that are poisoning our families, wildlife, water sources and destroying our climate,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of IEN, in the organization’s press release on March 29.

Just to rub salt in the wounds, the Trump administration was also a no-show for a hearing on March 21 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to explain themselves for allowing DAPL’s construction to finish, despite the massive opposition and an incomplete environmental impact study. Many politicians have found this deplorable and only shows that the Trump administration does not care about human rights or the international community as they seem to be on the way to isolationist policies.

“People are finally starting to understand that we are not just mascots, we are not just caricatures, we’re not just past tense, we’re not historical figures. We are people that exist in the here and now. We are people that are fighting for the rights of our futures, our children, our ancestors.”

– Eryn Wise, council member for International Indigenous Youth

Sadly, it wouldn’t be too shocking if that is where the country is headed given that Trump’s 2018 budget calls for a 28% cut to the Department of State and the U.S Agency for International Development and a pay reduction to international organizations like the United Nations.

As much as Trump wants make the United States into an authoritarian state, he must face the music sooner than later for his numerous and deceptive excuses. The fight for Mother Earth and her protectors will not stop until the corrupt government and oil companies realize how big of a mistake they made.

You can take action now to continue the fight against pipelines and in defense of the planet and her indigenous allies. Donate to the legal defense fund for the 709 water protectors facing felony charges. You can also contact your representatives to speak out against DAPL or contact Trump to let him know your objection to the illegal fast-track of DAPL. Find out more about divestment and how to organize an event in your city at defunddapl.org.