Native American protesters pause construction on the Dakota Access pipeline

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Friday, August 19, 2016

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On Friday, eighteen Native American Indian and environmental activists, including Standing Rock tribal chairman, Dave Archambault, were arrested while protesting the North Dakota Access oil pipeline.

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In response to hundreds of protesters congregating near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, the Morton County dispatched: police, highway patrol and G4S personnel, reportedly with tear gas due to rumours of violent protesters. However, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN), the protests were peaceful and participants were using nonviolent direct tactics.

The pipeline workers abandoned their equipment on Monday, after a group of protesters, mostly led by women, walked onto the site and surrounded the machinery. Due to the protest, construction of the US$3.8 billion project has been indefinitely paused and it’s unknown when work will continue.

The Morton County Sheriff, Kyle Kirchmeier told a press conference on Wednesday, the only reason construction was stopped and the highway closed was to “get control of the situation” and protect workers.

The Standing Rock, Rosebud and Lower Brule Lakota tribes have protested the pipeline since it was approved by the U.S. Senate in January, as the oil pipeline is planned to run underneath the Missouri River, which could potentially pollute a source of drinking water for many.

The Army Corps of Engineers were sued by the Standing Rock tribe for approving the construction permit, as they maintain that the proposed pipeline is illegal as it runs through federally protected burial grounds.

On August 10, when the Dakota Access workers arrived with armed security guards to begin construction of an access road, there were initially 15 to 30 protesters occupying the site. Since then the number of protesters has been fluid but steadily increasing. On Tuesday, Dakota Access won a restraining order against the protesters and according to filings, there were upward of 350 protesters and 700 camping in solidarity by Friday.

If the Dakota Access pipeline is completed, approximately 470,000 barrels of fracked crude oil will be transferred daily, through the 1,172 miles long pipeline from the Bakken oil fields in North-Dakota, to Pakota, Illinois.

The protesters aim to delay construction until August 24, when the Standing Rock Sioux’s application for an injunction will be considered in Washington DC.


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