“We know that elections and individuals alone don’t create change — movements do.”
This is the maxim that guided the huge United States-wide action that took place on November 15. There were nearly 200 protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, the largest since the US government requested the project be temporarily halted in September.
The actions were called by indigenous leaders in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and to call on the Army Corps of Engineers and US government to stop the pipeline, according to one of the organisers, Dallas Goldtooth, a spokesperson for Indigenous Environmental Network.
“The purpose is to elevate the issue and to encourage the Army Corps to exert its power to stop this pipeline,” Goldtooth said of the protests that more than 30 groups, including Greenpeace and CREDO Action, helped sponsor.
The day before, the Army Corps and Department of Interior delayed a decision on whether to grant Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the pipeline — for an easement to tunnel under Lake Oahe — the water source that is the focal point of protests.
Construction of the behemoth 1172-mile pipeline is about 85% complete, Phillips 66, one of the pipeline's investors, said days before the protests. The only outstanding construction work to be done in North Dakota is the segment of the line that would run under the lake, according to Energy Transfer.
The company said it was confident the Army Corps would grant the easement, allowing it to begin drilling under the lake.
As such, the protests targeted Army Corps offices throughout the country, as well as major banks financing construction of the pipeline. Norwegian bank DNB had already said this month it would reconsider financing the project if the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux were not addressed.
While President-elect Donald Trump has not weighed in on Dakota Access specifically, he has continuously expressed strong support for the development of energy infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines.
Kelcy Warren, the top executive at Energy Transfer, donated more than US$100,000 to the Trump campaign.
“Indigenous leaders are calling on us to take to the streets and disrupt ‘business-as-usual’ one week after the election to demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline,” said the call to action for the November 15 protests.
“The Army Corps fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline without proper consultation, and as a result, bulldozers are approaching Standing Rock as we speak. But with coordinated, massive demonstrations across the country, we’ll make it clear that this powerful movement will not allow the sacrifice of Indigenous rights, our water, or our climate.”
[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]