Oh blog, I have been so neglectful! It was a whirlwind of a summer, but fall is truly here, as signified by the last 48 hours of non-stop rain (really, PNW, I get the point already!) and that means time to sit down and get back on track with my climate change actions.
Tonight I went to a fundraiser for the Standing Rock Sioux. The Standing Rock Sioux are in the midst of an extraordinarily long, difficult fight against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline, or DAPL. The DAPL aims to connect crude oil extracted from two of North Dakota’s oil production areas over 1100 miles to connections in Illinois that will link it to refineries for processing. When completed, the DAPL is expected to have the capacity to carry about 500,000 barrels of crude oil daily, about half the total production capacity of the Bakken oil formation, to connect it with refineries and markets in the Midwest and South.
While the DAPL is arguably “just linking extant product with extant markets” according to its proponents, in light of our pressing need to keep fossil fuel energy in the ground in order to meet the objectives of reducing carbon emissions and reducing climate change impacts it is clearly an action that moves us farther from these goals. In addition, the pipeline traverses the contested ground of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who are fighting this project on the grounds that that the pipeline has been built without their consent or consultation, endangers sites of archaeological value to their people, and risks contamination of their surface and groundwater resources. The case history behind these claims is incredibly complex, and stems from early actions of the federal government against the Sioux to deprive them of their lands, the legal and real ramifications of which have been hundreds of years in unfolding into a very difficult case as to whose land this really is (check out this really well-written report about this legal history in the Atlantic).
The tribe has engaged in extensive legal action trying to resolve their claims and block the pipeline. Despite a short-term injunction to stop work while the legal case was pending, most recently on Oct 10 a federal appeals court overturned this judgement and is allowing construction to proceed. However, three federal agencies, Interior, Justice and Army, ordered that construction stop on land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers next to and underneath Lake Oahe as it reviews its permitting decisions (which was summarily ignored by DAPLs owners). Most recently, multiple US Senators have called on President Obama to ask for suspend construction and require a full environmental impact statement for the project.
The tribe is not sitting by while waiting for these legal decisions to be made. They have established a semi-permanent camp from which they are protesting the DAPL, and they have been joined by tribes from all over the country- including 8 tribes here in Washington- in their efforts. More than 1500 tribal members have gathered in support of these actions in what is probably one of the largest such gatherings of multiple tribes in many decades. All over the country, people are stepping forward and traveling to the camp to show their support for the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux. Their actions are not without risk- several people have been hurt in police confrontations, and journalists have been arrested trying to report on this event, including Democracy Now!s Amy Goodman who has been charged with criminal trespassing and a documentary filmmaker who faces felony conspiracy charges for her reporting that could add up to 45 years in jail.
I am very proud that my community came together tonight to support these actions. Local artists organized an event which included wonderful food, drummers and singers from our local tribe to share their music, and an amazing array of art from artists all over the country auctioned off to raise money to support the Sioux. The solidarity shown to the Sioux from tribes and activists nationwide has been extremely heartening. I hope they are buoyed by the knowledge that a few thousand of them have many thousands more behind them working to insist that the DAPL process has been unjust, insufficient, and unfair to many Acpeople directly affected by it, and that these projects stand in direct opposition to where we need to be going as a nation and planet if we are to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition towards a clean energy future.