President Obama kept his word when he said that, “there is a way for us to accommodate the sacred lands of Native Americans,” and the Army Corps of Engineers just formally denied an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross underneath the Missouri River.
The pipeline is blocked.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe released a statement expressing that they would be, “forever grateful to the Obama Administration for this historic decision.”
There’s still a petition circulating that asks President Obama to take the next step and declare the tribe’s sacred lands as a national monument, to permanently defeat further efforts to place environmentally dangerous pipelines in that region.
The election of Donald Trump to be our next president — a man who says land can be taken by private corporations against farmers and Tribal Nations’ legal rights, and who wants to do all he can to increase the use of fossil fuel — means the stakes are higher than ever now in our fight to protect our land, water and climate.
With just a few months left in President Obama’s term, we have very little time to organize and convince the president to declare a “Standing Rock” national monument.
Tribal Chairmen from Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, Oglala, Rosebud, Crow Creek, Santee, Lower Brule, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate and Flandreau Sioux Nations all endorse this bold step President Obama can take to protect the land, water and his legacy.
The real victory today belongs to the water protectors and protesters, who held on until thousands of U.S. military veterans began pouring into North Dakota from across the country to stand between the militarized police who spent a month violently abusing peaceful protesters.
It ends an ugly chapter in American history, where an oil company tried to run a pipeline near majority white Bismarck, North Dakota, was denied.
The Energy Transfer Corporation then tried to relocate the DAPL pipeline without public input, to where it could foul the drinking water of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Here’s the tribe’s statement:
Police spent weeks abusing the protesters, spraying them with cold water in the freezing weather in an attempt to induce a dangerous hypothermia, firing less-lethal weapons like concussion grenades and rubber bullets.
The Army formally announced that this is the formal denial of the easement needed to connect the pipeline.
The Department of the Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works announced today.
Jo-Ellen Darcy said she based her decision on a need to explore alternate routes for the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing. Her office had announced on November 14, 2016 that it was delaying the decision on the easement to allow for discussions with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation lies 0.5 miles south of the proposed crossing.
Tribal officials have expressed repeated concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to its water supply and treaty rights.
“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,” Darcy said. “The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” Darcy said that the consideration of alternative routes would be best accomplished through an Environmental Impact Statement with full public input and analysis.
The Army Corps’ 180-degree reversal from attempting to order protesters to depart by Monday, to folding entirely and abandoning the pipeline’s request for an easement is a major move in the right direction towards preserving our environment.
However, it falls short of the protesters’ overall goal of stopping the pipeline entirely, because its entire purpose is to distribute fracked oil which pollutes the ground from its extraction technique, before being burned into the atmosphere contributing to climate change.
This year is on track to be the hottest on record, and not only did Americans elect a president who doesn’t believe in facts or temperature records. Donald Trump even wants to get rid of the very factual source of this paragraph by eliminating NASA’s earth science program ― part of its founding mission.
Without President Obama in the White House and his aggressive EPA actions, there will be a whole lot more of America’s water becoming endangered in the years to come.
For the moment, another Flint has been averted.
That is what happens when Americans wake up, then band together, and fight for clean water and against injustice together, from across the country.
Meanwhile, it’s still urgent to stay vigilant about protecting our environment and a good time to sign the petition urging President Obama to permanently protect Standing Rock from ecological destruction.