Our deadly addiction to fossil fuels and our too slow transition to a clean energy economy is threatening our very existence, and ultimately forces citizens to take measures into their own hands, like the thousands who are engaging in non-violent protest in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Their reward? Pepper spray, vicious attack dogs, and jail.
It is unconscionable that, in the service of Big Oil, peace officers are using violence and intimidation against the Standing Rock water protectors exercising their First Amendment rights, and journalists who are simply trying to document this historic movement against the corporate takeover of the commons. These extraordinary and unacceptable actions denigrate the fabric of our Constitution and the fundamental concept of a government for the people, by the people, of the people.
We are thankful for the President Obama’s recent actions on the pipeline and for considering alternative solutions, like re-routing the pipeline. However, whether the proposed route is changed or not, it is imperative that the Obama Administration demand an Environmental Impact Statement that adequately reflects the full environmental impacts of the pipeline project and follows the new Council on Environmental Quality National Environmental Policy Act guidance on climate change, as well as grant the requests from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe for a cultural survey of the lands the pipeline may cross. Simply altering the course of this unnecessary project without these measures is unacceptable.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “[t]he arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This summer, President Obama referenced that quote in a commencement address at Rutgers University. He agreed with the quote but also felt that the arc of the universe doesn’t bend towards justice, freedom and equality on its own. Rather he said that it depends on us and the choices we make at certain inflection point, particularly when big changes are happening.
Indeed, Mr. President, big changes are happening. The world is in the process of making a massive shift to clean energy. That transition needs to accelerate and we need to cut loose the still tight, yet loosening, grip of Big Oil’s clutch on our democracy and our future before it’s too late. The protectors, not protesters, are making a choice to stand for their right for clean water, and a clean energy future for all people. The courageous citizens at Standing Rock have the legal, moral and ethical right to protect their homeland, their historic and sacred sites, and the drinking water of millions. We stand in solidarity with the 28 tribes who have treaty rights up and down the length of the Missouri River Basin.