Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bakken Pipeline Protests Turn Violent

Latest: The UN envoy for aboriginal rights called on the US government to stop construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that has disturbed native sacred sites. Twelve hundred archeologists joined the call Friday in a letter to the President protesting the disturbance of aboriginal sacred sites that contain stone cairns, prayer rings and burials. On September 3rd company construction crews showed up with their equipment after the site locations were revealed in court documents. They bulldozed the areas.

{13.09.16}The current administration has called for a partial halt to construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that has sprung a concerted protest movement led by Native Americans. Standing Rock Sioux Chairman, David Archambault II told local media that Americans should be looking to renewable sources of energy, not more crude oil extracted using an environmentally damaging technology (hydraulic fracturing). Over two hundred thousand Americans agree with him and his people. Eight pipelines already cross the Missouri River. The plan is for the new pipeline to tunnel under the river. The Texas company head executive vowed to continue building the pipeline despite its unpopularity, saying the fears of water supply contamination are "unfounded". On Tuesday, company workers removed 27 pieces of construction equipment from a site five miles east of St. Anthony, ND which the company claims were damaged by protestors. The pipeline is sixty percent constructed. Activists called for a "day of action" around the country to protest the project's completion. Former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and others addressed a rally in Washington, DC. urging the administration to stop the project permanently.

09.09.16 A federal judge has refused to block construction of the Bakken oil pipeline that is planned to span four states. Judge Jame Bosberg issued and emergency restraining order over last weekend halting construction after peaceful native protests erupted in violence. In his ruling he found that the construction permits issued by the US Army were likely to be found valid. Shortly after the ruling, the federal government asked owner Energy Transfer Partners to voluntarily halt construction under Lake Oahe. An easement from the federal government is required before that construction can take place and the company's application is under review. Native Americans are concerned the pipeline--dubbed the "black snake"--which is intended to transport 570,000 barrels of crude a day will adversely impact water quality.  Tribal spokesmen asked for continued non-violent opposition.

In a minor development, the Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein was charged with criminal trespass and mischief after spray painting a bulldozer owned by the construction company building the pipeline. Stein wrote graffiti saying she approved of the protests against building the pipeline.  A state judge issued an arrest warrant for the presidential candidate.  She later told reporters that the pipeline itself "was vandalism on steroids."No word on whether she would voluntarily submit to the court's jurisdiction.

07.09.16 Members of the Sioux Nation encountered a violent response from pipeline company agents as they protested against the construction of a Bakken field oil pipeline upstream from their reservation on Saturday morning. According to a historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux, construction bulldozers went twenty miles out of their right-of-way to demolish sites sacred to the Tribe. Energy Transfer Partners, owner of the pipeline used agents equipped with pepper spray and dogs to subdue protesters. Injuries occurred on both sides including a child bitten by a dog; two dogs were taken to a veterinarian clinic. Protests against the $3.8 billion project have been growing, particularly in North Dakota. For months, thousands of indigenous activists have set up resistance camps along the pipeline route in a historic demonstration of nonviolent resistance. Construction has also halted at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers while a federal court decision is pending.  The Tribe filed a federal suit against the project in July arguing that it had received inadequate environmental review and tribal consultation.

another scar on the land, credit: D. Samson II
On Sunday, the Tribe succeeded in convincing a federal judge to issue an emergency order stopping pipe construction on some of the 1100 mile pipeline intended to carry oil from shale deposits to a hub in Illinois.  The construction will allow higher production from the Bakken field, one of the first shale deposits to be commercially fracked.  Construction continues on private land.  In other court action, protesters in Iowa [photo] defeated an attempt by the company to obtain an injunction against a planned protest that has not yet occurred.  The owners will be back in court on Friday.  Three million dollars in damage to pipeline construction equipment was reported in two Iowa counties after an alleged arson attack.  So far environmentalists have failed to stop progress on the pipeline in Iowa as state officials have sided with the owners.