(EnviroNews World News) — Washington D.C. — The frown has been turned upside down for those fighting against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline Project (DAPL), as the Obama Administration, including the Army, the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Justice Department (DOJ), stepped in on Friday September 9, 2016, and halted construction on the project — a plan that’s been riddled by fierce opposition from the onset. The announcement came only minutes after a federal judge had dealt the Standing Rock Sioux Nation a huge blow, when he shot down its appeal to stop DAPL. A stark and rare reversal by the Administration — and a move that comes only days after protests erupted into violence on the ground in North Dakota.
Judge James Boasberg said in his 58-page ruling that the pipeline companies and regulators had done things properly during the permitting phase, and that decision would have granted Energy Transfer Partners LP the green light to continue work. The Administration’s new position turned what would have been a dark and gloomy loss for the thousands of Native American protestors congregated at Standing Rock, into a sunny day victory instead.
In a joint press release, the agencies requested that construction stop, at least for the time being, near Lake Oahe, a key water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, positioned on the Missouri River, saying they would now consider whether permitting decisions made for DAPL under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), need to be reconsidered.
Despite the court’s ruling, which determined regulators had done everything properly during the permitting process, the Administration also said, “”important issues raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribal nations and their members regarding the Dakota Access pipeline specifically, and pipeline-related decision-making generally, remain.”
The three agencies continued in their statement, “The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.” “In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe.” Considering last weekend’s events, it remains to be seen whether “the pipeline company” will “voluntarily” do anything of the sort.
THE STRAW THAT BROKE THE CAMEL’S BACK? — PROTEST GOES HAYWIRE — PIPELINE COMPANY RETREATS, AND SO DO THE FEDS
Six days ago, on September 3, things got downright out of hand at a multi-tribal DAPL protest on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. One day earlier, the tribe had notified the pipeline construction company, Energy Transfer Partners LP, that sacred burial sites were in the pipeline’s path.
The next day, a Labor Day weekend Saturday, the company fired up its bulldozers and began plowing under the sites. Protest leaders said the company normally doesn’t work on the weekends (especially not Labor Day weekend), and that the move was a brazen slap in the face to the Great Sioux Nation.
Not only did Energy Transfer Partners bring bulldozers, it also came with a brigade of security officers wielding pepper spray and attack dogs. When the bulldozing commenced, enraged Native American protestors (who prefer to be called “protectors”) broke through a wire fence — and that’s when all hell broke lose.
Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman was on the scene with a video producer and captured the melee as Natives representing dozens of tribes from around the U.S. and Canada clashed with Energy Transfer’s security team.
By the time the skirmish was over, the security teams and their dogs, were breaking camp with their tails between their legs, to enraged, and victorious screams, telling them to “get the fuck out of [there].”
You can catch that entire riveting video episode in the embedded story just below.
A HISTORIC PROTEST WITH HISTORIC RESULTS
The Administration’s reversal on DAPL offers new hope and vigor to an ongoing and growing movement and its accompanying encampment, tattered but not broken, by months-on-end of battling with pipeline companies.
“This is a historic, unprecedented, and overdue move by the Administration that is reflective of the brave and principled stand by the Standing Rock Sioux,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The Tribe has stood up to combat the oppression and injustice they and Native Americans throughout our country have faced for generations, and the Administration was right to recognize it.”
FILM AND ARTICLE CREDITS
- Emerson Urry - Journalist, Author