On Wednesday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the final easement allowing Energy Transfer Partners to proceed with construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by drilling under the Missouri River just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which paves the way for construction of the final 1.5 miles of the almost 1,200-mile pipeline. What this means is that oil could begin flowing under Lake Oahe within 60 days, and that the public comment period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the crossing of the Missouri is no longer an option to make your voice heard on this issue. In sum, Wednesday’s action of granting the final easement shut down the environmental review process.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and allies will return to court to fight this project, and water protectors on the ground at Standing Rock have vowed to continue peaceful protests. It is critical that we to continue to support them in their efforts by keeping national attention on this issue, participating in local protest actions, and supporting the efforts to encourage citizens, municipalities, and businesses to divest from financial institutions that support projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline.
We know that in 2016 alone, we have already seen the dangers associated with pipelines —there have been more than 787 fossil fuel pipeline spills, including five major incidents that killed 2 people, injured four and leaked 1.5 million gallons of toxic petroleum products into nearby land and water. Additionally, large spills, such as the massive Kalamazoo, Michigan crude oil spill in 2010, can have long-term effects that local residents and wildlife must contend with for decades. The pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River of more than 800,000 gallons of heavy crude affected 35 miles of the river, and hasn’t been fully remediated years later, despite a cleanup effort that has cost more than $1.21 billion. The EPA says an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo remains polluted. Pipeline breaks can cause everlasting damage to waterways and communities.
These spills occurred even as the Obama administration attempted to make the pipeline companies abide by laws designed to prevent them. Under President Trump, corporate leaders and stockholders of fossil fuel companies have been appointed to major cabinet positions. They have pledged to move forward with DAPL and the massive Keystone XL pipeline even though it has been demonstrated repeatedly that pipelines harm people, waterways and communities.
In 2016, Waterkeeper Alliance had to activate our rapid response protocol to address pipeline explosions, leaks and fires in California, Pennsylvania, and Alabama. We are still working to hold the pipeline companies responsible for damage to waterways and communities. With the fossil fuel foxes inside every government hen house like never before in history, Waterkeeper Alliance is the last bastion of defense for these dirty energy projects. We pledge to do everything we can to fight the proposed massive expansion of fossil fuel projects across the United States.
In February of 2013, I was arrested in a show of civil disobedience in front of the White House, along with dozens of other environmental, civil-rights and community leaders from around the country. Although our preference is to challenge projects in court, many of our legal avenues had been closed off. We were there in 2013 to call attention to the urgent need to act on the climate crisis, which President Obama had highlighted the night before in his State of the Union address, and to demand that the President take immediate impact on carbon pollution by saying no to the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, which ultimately he did.
On March 10, 2017, Water Protectors from around the world will descend on Washington D.C. to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock at the Rise with Standing Rock Native Nations March. We ask that you continue to support us in our efforts to fight these attempts to endanger our waterways and communities with dirty fossil fuel pipelines. We will not give up this fight, and ask that you join us on the frontlines. We must stand up together and resist!
Mni Wiconi. Water is life.