The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota are reportedly engaged in a legal environmental and sacred battle against Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the D.C. District Court over a proposed oil pipeline that would run near their reservation – arguing that the pipeline would endanger their lives, their water supply and disturb their sacred grounds.
What is a Pipeline? A pipeline is a long pipe, typically underground to transport oil, gases and other materials over long distances.
In the case of the Dakota Pipeline, 1,134 miles of underground pipeline would stretch over 4 states; North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois. The Dakota pipeline would transport a staggering 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
Consequences may result from fires or explosions caused by ignition of the released product. Some hazardous liquid releases can cause environmental damage, impact wildlife or contaminate drinking water supplies. Releases can have significant economic effects as well, such as business interruptions, damaged infrastructure, or interruption in the supply of fuel such as natural gas service to homes and businesses, according to a report from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.
Environmental and Sacred Legal Arguments
Since spring of 2016, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have argued the proposed pipeline will cross under the Missouri and Canton Rivers, sites of the reservation’s main water supply. A population of over 8,000 people and home of thousands of wildlife, plant and insect species could suffer disastrous consequences if a leak or spill occurs. The tribe also points out that the original plans for the pipeline called for construction farther north, near the capital of Bismarck. Public State Officials halted those plans in fear that if a leak accrued it would be disastrous to the capital city of North Dakota.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with Earthjustice, an environmental activist organization, sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal court on July 27, 2016 for wrongly approving the pipeline without proper consultation.
The tribe argues the proposed pipeline site would run through a stretch of land north of the Sioux reservation, home to recent discoveries of a sacred burial site of the Sioux tribe.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe filed an injunction to stop the activity of the pipeline while the lawsuit is currently being heard in D.C. District Court.
On Sept. 3 Dakota Access fired up the bulldozers and started digging on a section of the proposed pipeline site where recent sacred artifacts were found. Protestors attempting to stop the bulldozers were met by a private security company armed with pepper spray and dogs. Over 50 Sioux protestors were peppered sprayed and bitten by dogs.
On Sept. 9 U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected the injunction to stop the activity on the pipeline. Within the hour the Obama Administration suspended Dakota Access bulldozer activity and blocked the pipeline from sacred grounds.
Currently there are hundreds of thousands of tribesmen from over 200 Native American tribes, across the U.S. and Canada, lead by Sioux Chairmen, Dave Archambault II, have descended on Cannon Ball, North Dakota in protest for environmental and sacred equity against Dakota Access and Big Oil.
Cathy Allen is an award-winning Urban Environmentalist, the co-creator of G.R.A.S.S. (Growing Resources After Sowing Seed) as well as Chair of the “Grow-It Eat It” campaign. G.R.A.S.S. is an environmental entrepreneurial nonprofit program based on the fundamentals of gardening, agriculture and ecology. In conjunction with Baltimore City Public Schools, Allen’s campaign has planted over a half-million trees on the lawns of Baltimore City public schools.}She can be reached at [email protected].