There’s a stand off at Standing Rock, North Dakota.The Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the Missouri River, the Standing Rock Sioux’s reservation’s water source. The tribe alleges that the Army Corps of Engineers, Sunco, and its parent company Energy Transfer Partners ignored due process for studies and permits. Yet Sunoco continues to plow ahead.
Native Americans from over 200 tribes live together in a camp of tipis, tents and geodesic domes. Their numbers double in size each weekend. At the entrance of the camp, a billboard reminds people: “We are protectors. We are nonviolent. We do not carry weapons. We keep each other accountable.”
Yet protesters are confronted by a militarized police force that cost over $10 million, spending much of it on riot gear and arms. They have used tear gas, attack dogs and rubber bullets.
Over 400 water protectors have been arrested. North Dakota police have treated peaceful demonstrations with new levels of indecency; they are locking people in animal cages and writing numbers on their forearms. As of Nov. 4, four policemen have laid down their arms and refused to serve.
Sunoco and Energy Transfer Partners have a reprehensible track record of pipeline breaches. Faulty construction has caused leaks and explosions in Pennsylvania and Alabama that contaminated water, land and air.
Sunoco is a for-profit company that’s taken people’s homes at below market value, claiming to be a utility and therefore using eminent domain. But it passes costs from accidents to consumers, so shareholders never lose. The CEO makes millions per year.
The stakeholders are us, our children and our future. Global warming is happening much faster than previous worst-case scenarios predicted. Trump says climate change is a hoax. It doesn’t look good for planet protectors, not in North Dakota or anywhere.
Alison Stapp is a staff writer at the Tower. E-mail her at ajgstapp5269(at)gmail.com.