Trump is now trying to expedite final approval for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
What’s going on?
In case it didn’t come to your attention last year, efforts are underway to build an oil pipeline through parts of North Dakota. The pipeline’s course brings it to within 500 feet of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, not to mention beneath the Missouri River–a vital water source. This means that a break in the pipe would be potentially catastrophic, contaminating the land and water.
After months of protests, the Obama administration put a halt to the pipeline’s progress until a more thorough environmental impact study could be completed. Trump has reversed course on this, seeking to approve the pipeline’s construction as quickly as possible.
Why is it important?
The distribution of fossil fuel supplies in the US–and oil in particular–is a thorny issue. The country is already crisscrossed by thousands of miles of pipelines. A lot of oil is also transported by rail, which is more prone to accidental spills and ensuing environmental and property damage, not to mention loss of life. Pipelines are safer, but they still carry risks–risks which warrant keeping them away from residential communities and fresh water sources.
In addition, the history between European settlers (and later, the American government) and Native Americans in this country is tragic and inexcusable. There is absolutely a symbolic element to resisting the deployment of DAPL: halting the pipeline’s construction represents a very real victory for the interests of Native Americans over the US government and its corporate interests. In other words, it is the very least we could do to begin making up for centuries of violence and oppression.
Whether one wants to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels entirely, or simply route the pipeline away from the Standing Rock reservation and the Missouri River, it is difficult to justify the pipeline’s current route given the profound environmental impact a spill would have. And pipeline spills are a very real possibility, given the thousands that have occurred in the US in the past 20 years.
What can I do?
A lot, actually. The NoDAPL website offers a variety of options:
- Sign the petition against the pipeline. Such public outcry helped thwart it last time.
- Donate money to the legal fund to help fight the pipeline in the courtroom.
- Donate to Sacred Stone Camp, where protesters are putting their bodies on the line to protect their land and water supplies.
- Donate medical supplies for the people at Sacred Stone Camp, both to meet their everyday needs and to tend to them when police violently assault them (which has happened more than once).
If you have the time and fortitude, you can go protest in person, as well. Information on joining Sacred Stone Camp is available here.
Photo by -Jeffrey-
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