Skip to content

#NoDAPL Isn’t Over Yet: Energy Transfer Partners Vows To Build Dakota Access Pipeline

Posted in Archive, Journalism, and MintPress News

By Derrick Broze and Kit O’Connell. Originally published at MintPress News.

STANDING ROCK RESERVATION, North Dakota — Native American opponents of the Dakota Access pipeline and their allies celebrated after the Army Corps of Engineers denied a key permit to the pipeline builder on Sunday.

Citing concerns raised by the leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux nation that the pipeline would endanger tribal sovereignty and limit access to fresh water in the event of a spill, the Army Corps of Engineers denied Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline builder, a permit to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota.

“Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it’s clear that there’s more work to do,” Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, saida statement issued on Sunday.

“The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

Alternate routes will be considered based on a new environmental impact statement that will include input from the public and the tribe, Darcy added.

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, one of several corporate partners in the pipeline’s construction, rejected the Army’s decision in a sharply critical press release published on Business Wire on Sunday night.

“This is nothing new from this Administration, since over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office,” the statement read.

Dismissing the Army’s “further delay” as a “transparent political action,” the companies vowed to continue construction on the same route under the incoming administration. “Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”

Antonia Juhasz, a journalist specializing in oil news, tweeted that the statement is an attempt by the pipeline builders to placate investors in the face of a decision that significantly increases their financial risk.

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all of Indian Country will be forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision,” wrote Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.

Archambault also acknowledged the struggle of the young Native American activists who have spent months resisting the pipeline at grave risk to their health and safety. He continued:

We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us, and the tens of thousands who donated time, talent, and money to our efforts to stand against this pipeline in the name of protecting our water. We especially thank all of the other tribal nations and jurisdictions who stood in solidarity with us, and we stand ready to stand with you if and when your people are in need.

In an opinion piece published on Monday in Truthout, Kelly Hayes, a Native American activist and reporter, deemed the Army’s decision a win for the “water protectors,” as the Native protesters prefer to be known.

She described the celebration that erupted as “as Natives and other Water Protectors and supporters absorbed the news that eight months of collective action and prayer had yielded this moment, when the power structure itself blinked in the face of our unity.”

But she also called for greater resistance against the builders and financial funders of the pipeline. She continued:

This administration has taken no concrete action to stop the pipeline, and has once again kicked the can down the road — this time into the hands of the Trump administration. And while it’s true that environmental impact statements can in fact take years to complete, no attention to detail — either legal or environmental — should be expected under a president-elect who has promised to govern in the style of an autocrat.

‘I felt like it was my responsibility to make it out here’

Although Monday had previously been set as the deadline for the evacuation of camps on land controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple had declared a state of emergency ordering an end to pipeline resistance, the massive size of the gathering seemed likely to create intense logistical difficulties for law enforcement attempting to bring it to an end.

Thousands of veterans streamed into the already sizable encampments on and around Standing Rock Sioux territory in North Dakota throughout the weekend, vowing to protect the water protectors from police violence.

Hundreds of Native American tribes and allies from around the globe had already gathered there. On Sunday night, MintPress News’ sources on the ground estimated that at least 10,000 people were present, with other sources suggesting the gathering had swelled to twice that size

Nurses, legal experts, and even noted activist and scholar Cornel West were among the many allies arriving alongside the vets.

Tulsi Gabbard, a U.S. representative from Hawaii and a veteran of the Army National Guard, also joined the water protectors over the weekend. Vehicles carrying further reinforcements continued to arrive even after the Army’s announcement, and many vowed to continue to fight pipeline construction.

Derrick Broze, an independent journalist reporting for MintPress from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, reported that hundreds of people have taken part in large-scale nonviolent civil disobedience trainings, leaving the water protectors better prepared to resist continued construction and future attempts by law enforcement to clear activists from the protest encampments.

“I felt like it was my responsibility to make it out here, especially given the veterans protest and action that is happening this weekend,” Michael Blake, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, told Broze.

When asked what inspired him to join the veterans in North Dakota, Blake cited an incident in September, when private security hired by Energy Transfer Partners attacked water protectors with dogs.

He also compared the U.S. invasion of Iraq to the situation faced by the water protectors at the hands of police and private security.

“We were oppressing people essentially on their own soil in Iraq,” he said. “We went to the other side of the world to oppress people in their own country.”