After reporting on the oil spill in Alberta, a protest of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota, currently under construction, gained attention recently. The protesters have sent a letter to President Obama, the Standing Stone Sioux Tribe have submitted a lawsuit to a federal judge, Bernie Sanders has offered a statement, and the New York Times and other widely read publications have had articles on the issue. At the Sacred Stone Spirit Camp and elsewhere on the path of the pipeline, activists have worked for months to impede construction, defending their rights to the land and protecting their water sources.
In an interview with Democracy Now!, David Archambault (chair of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and author of one of the recent pieces in the New York Times described the core issues that their activism fights against. The Dakota Access pipeline threatens not only the “ancestral sites that are significant” to his tribe but also the livelihoods and health of “millions down the [Missouri] river” in the event of a spill. His tribe was not approached in the planning stages of the pipeline, as indigenous tribes rarely are. “We pay for economic development,” he says, “we pay for national security, and we pay for energy independence. It is at our expense that this nation reaps those benefits… We never had the opportunity to express our concerns.” David’s tribe have accepted that there is no way to stop the pipeline from crossing private land, but they have requested that a federal judge overturn the approval of construction on public lands along the path.
The Sierra Club has also sent a letter to President Obama on the issue signed by 30 representatives of groups including the Indigenous Environmental Network, 350.org, Greenpeace, Environment America, and Friends of the Earth No response has been given yet by the judge or President Obama.