On Sunday, the Dakota Access pipeline saga finally came to an end.
For the two of you who don’t know about the Dakota Access pipeline, let us briefly fill you in. Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners started building a $3.8-billion pipeline, according to The Associated Press. For the most part, they completed it. The pipeline would have been about 1,200 miles long and would have carried 470,000 barrels of crude oil each day from North Dakota to several production areas in Illinois. One portion underneath Lake Oahe went incomplete.
Lake Oahe is the sole supplier of drinking water to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, a reservation that is the home of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. A single break in the pipeline, something that is by no means uncommon for these things, would contaminate the water supply to all of Standing Rock’s inhabitants.
Moreover, in areas that would be altered to accommodate the pipeline lay important cultural sites and sacred burial grounds. To build the pipeline would require the destruction of those lands.
Not only have Native Americans, both of Standing Rock and other tribes, come together to protest the building of this pipeline, but they’ve also been met with help of many other environmentally concerned protesters, who have traveled from all around the country to join Standing Rock in their fight against Energy Transfer Partners. The response by Native Americans from around North America has been so large that scholars maintain it’s the largest gathering of Native American tribes in the last 100 years.
At its height, an estimated 3,000 pipeline-resistance supporters and more than 300 federally recognized Native American tribes have resided in the camp. The clashes between protesters and police peaked when unarmed protesters were tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed, bitten by guard dogs — six people had been hospitalized for wounds — shot at with rubber bullets and hosed down with water in below-freezing temperatures.
We here at the Alligator do not believe these protestors deserved to be treated like misplaced and uncooperative cattle. Sure, some have been using this protest like some of our peers use a music festival. Others have been, perhaps, legally overstepping their boundaries in expressing their discontent. By all means, it is absolutely fair to arrest those few for their behavior. Given that these people are often uncooperative, it’s understandable that aggressive force should be used. But the aforementioned methods were absolutely unjustified.
For those of us standing with those at Standing Rock miles away, good news was delivered yesterday. The Army Corps of Engineers told the Standing Rock Sioux chairman that the current route of the pipeline would not be pursued and that Lake Oahe would remain untouched.
Sadly, this is not a total and complete victory. The pipeline will still be built, granted in areas that are more appropriate. The pipeline will still be moving thousands of gallons of crude oil across the U.S., and a leak could still compromise the health of countless ecosystems. But this shouldn’t be a problem in the first place. We, as a country, are capable of making our earth a bit greener to combat (the scientifically undeniable) dangers that climate change poses to our race. We need to move away from grimy fossil fuels and toward sustainable and no-waste green energy alternatives.
We’ve made some amazing progress in this field. The number of jobs that could be brought into this country by investing in sustainable-energy practices would be amazing and, more than likely, wouldn’t result in a horrible and destructive protest movement. Let’s spare the unnecessary carnage when we can.
Marine Corps veteran and Northern Paiute and Pit River Native American Audie Noneo, of Susanville, Calif., holds the Marine Corps flag at the Oceti Sakowin camp where people have gathered to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline in Cannon Ball, N.D., Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Sunday it won't grant easement for the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota.