Oil Corporation Tramps on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights
By John Lawrence
Finally, there is an alliance of a major group — U.S. Indians — and environmentalists who are taking a stand to prevent the furtherance of fossil fuel interests. Bill McKibben of 350.org says we must stop now insofar as building more fossil fuel infrastructure, which is what a pipeline represents, if we are to have a hope and a prayer of saving the planet from the effects of global warming.
The Native Americans have those interests and more — they rely on clean water from the Missouri River for their lives and livelihoods. This pipeline would probably result in the pollution of the water they rely on because pipelines aren’t foolproof. They break and spew their pollution. In addition, the pipeline construction is desecrating Indian burial sites.
Journalists have flocked in from all over the country in order to document the desecration that is being imposed there. Many have been arrested. Truthdig reports:
Among those facing legal retribution for demonstrating alongside members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, who was initially brought up on “riot” charges, although those charges were later dropped. Actress Shailene Woodley made mainstream media headlines when she was arrested earlier in October during a peaceful protest—a process she streamed live onto her Facebook page. And award-winning documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg could face decades in prison for documenting the protests.
There’s a common thread linking Goodman, Woodley and Schlosberg: Each incurred criminal charges after documenting the protests in some form. Woodley, during her Facebook live stream, said she is being singled out by law enforcement “because I have 40,000 people watching.” Goodman, speaking after her own charges were dismissed, declared that “the state’s attorney was attempting to stop journalism.”
Schlosberg, however, faces the highest consequences for filming protesters earlier in October: up to 45 years of jail time.
First Amendment Rights Don’t Matter
It seems that First Amendment rights don’t matter when it comes to private property. Indian treaty rights to their ancestral burial grounds don’t matter either. The owner of private property can plow them under with impunity since private property rights trump all others. This is what Bernie Sanders had to say about it:
In an open letter to President Obama, Senator Sanders “respectfully but urgently” requests the President’s intervention in the situation in North Dakota. He states that the first priority must be “protecting the safety of the peaceful protesters” and urges President Obama to “send observers to protect the protesters’ First Amendment rights to protest the pipeline” as well as “remove the National Guard from the camp.”
Sanders goes on to demand that all federal permits for the pipeline project be suspended until a full cultural and environmental review can be completed. He states:
“To my mind, the Corps should have never approved this project on an expedited basis in the first place. If completed the pipeline will transport nearly 20 million gallons of crude oil every day, potentially threatening dozens of bodies of water.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline would also be a huge blow to our fight against climate change,” Sanders continues, discussing the effects of the pipeline’s carbon emissions.
Finally, echoing what many believe is the root cause of the struggle, Sanders states, “It is deeply distressing to me that the federal government is putting the profits of the oil industry ahead of the treaty and sovereign rights of Native American communities. I understand the Standing Rock Sioux have sued to stop the pipeline, citing the very serious environmental concerns, enrichment on culturally sensitive lands, and violations of tribal treaty rights to a meaningful consultative role in the federal permitting process. To my mind, it is simply unacceptable to build a project like this, in one of the poorest counties in the nation, without the approval of the Native American residents who live there.”
Fracked Oil Puts Cancer Causing Chemicals Into Air and Water
Indian treaty rights should take precedence over private property rights as should the rights of people to protest what’s going on. Furthermore, all pipeline projects need to stop or be stopped no matter what it takes in the interest of mitigating global warming. Otherwise, what is spoken out of one side of the politicians’ mouths is contradicted by what comes out of the other side. You cannot fight global warming on the one hand yet continue to support the fossil fuel industry on the other. The Federal Government needs to be clear about that and speak with one voice.
The DAPL would transport at least 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois where it would be refined. This is oil that has been fracked with advanced techniques.
However, a recent Yale study has made the connection between fracking and cancer. The team involved in the study examined a list of more than 1,000 chemicals that may be released into water or air as a result of fracking. The analysis is being called the “most expansive review of carcinogenicity of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the published literature.”
Of the chemicals for which there was sufficient data, 44 percent of the water pollutants and 60 percent of air pollutants were either confirmed or possible carcinogens. 20 chemicals had evidence of increased risk for leukemia or lymphoma.
“Because children are a particularly vulnerable population, research efforts should first be directed toward investigating whether exposure to hydraulic fracturing is associated with an increased risk,” said lead author Nicole Deziel, Ph.D.
Considering there are 650,000 K-12 children that attend school within one mile of a fracked well in the United States, as well as 15 million Americans in general, the results of the Yale study are extremely alarming.
The activists have refused to bend. The Bismarck Tribune quoted protest organizer Mekasi Camp-Horinek, of Oklahoma, as calling out, “No surrender, no retreat!” as he walked away from the negotiations with top law enforcement officials on last Wednesday afternoon.
The Tribune reported:
Camp-Horinek said he told police the group did not intend to relocate, then warned protesters to expect 300 officers to remove everyone from the camp and take them to jail. “We will be peaceful, we will be prayerful, we will not retreat,” he said.
Last Thursday a herd of buffalo came from nowhere and charged across the plain. This was taken as a hopeful sign by the protesters/protectors.