Early yesterday [10 February 2017], work restarted on the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This happened less than a day after the Trump administration granted a final easement to allow the project to go ahead over the disputed land near the Standing Rock reservation.
Emboldened by Trump’s latest move, on [8 February], the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said it had now “received all federal authorisations necessary to proceed expeditiously to complete construction of the pipeline.” Three things may still cause this project to fail, which Energy Transfer Partners says will be finished by June.
Firstly, there are ongoing legal battles. In response to the granting of the easement, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chair Dave Archambault II said, “The drinking water of millions of Americans is now at risk. We are a sovereign nation and we will fight to protect our water and sacred places from the brazen private interests trying to push this pipeline through to benefit a few wealthy Americans with financial ties to the Trump administration.”
Others vowed to continued the fight too. David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change International released the following statement: “This pipeline has been stopped before and we will work together to stop it again. The brave resistance of the water protectors in North Dakota has sparked a nationwide movement that will stand united today and in the days ahead.”
Secondly, the disinvestment case against the pipeline is gathering pace. On [7 February] in a significant blow to Energy Transfers, Seattle became the first US city to terminate its relationship with a major bank, Wells Fargo, in protest of it providing a credit facility to the pipeline. The move denies the bank access to $3 billion of funds and is a huge financial and public relations blow to the bank.
Thirdly, groups are mobilizing against DAPL every day, with events planned across the US. The events will culminate in a large-scale “Native Nations” march in Washington DC on March 10, led by the Standing Rock Tribe and Indigenous Environmental Network.
Meanwhile, up to 500 people are still living in bitterly cold conditions at three camps near the pipeline route. Theda New Brest, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy, said simply: “We are on the edge of a precipice. We have to stand. Mother Earth is life.”
This article first appeared on TheIndigenousPeoples.com, on 11 February 2017.