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Many Reasons, One Cause In Pipeline Protest/Obama Halts DAPL Construction Temporarily

Inside Energy – By Amy Sisk and Leigh Paterson – September 14, 2016

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Photo: People continue to camp in tepees and tents along the Cannonball River in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The oil pipeline is slated to cross through Army Corps of Engineers land about a mile from this camp. Photo by Amy Fisk.

Opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline continues to grow beyond its North Dakota roots, with solidarity protests Tuesday in dozens of cities across the country and the world.

The protests began in April with a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, whose reservation is downstream of where the 1,200-mile pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River. The tribe is concerned a leak could contaminate its drinking water and that construction is already harming sacred sites near the reservation. But as the protests have spread, the motivations have also become more diverse.

In Denver, more than a hundred people packed into the Four Winds American Indian Council, a cozy church with big stained glass windows on a leafy street south of downtown Denver. Some held signs with slogans like “Break free from fossil fuels.”

Derek Brown was not one of them.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for fossil fuels,” he said. “I drove here.”

Brown is Navajo and for him, the pipeline protest is not an environmental fight. It is about tribal sovereignty and making sure Native Americans have a voice.

“We don’t have a seat at the table of negotiations,” he said. “I feel like we have to make a stand that we are still here, that we still exist. American Indians are not dead.”

Sky Roosevelt-Morris lives in Denver, but was just at the protest camps in North Dakota.

“What’s going on over there [in North Dakota] is a revolutionary movement,” she said. “It’s starting a wildfire across the world. Not even just the country anymore, it’s going across the world. So it’s just a really big blessing.”

The protests have indeed spread. In addition to events in dozens of U.S. cities, activists planned to protest in London and Tokyo as well. But for many of those protesters, the fight is very much an environmental one—Keystone 2.0.

Outside the church in Denver, Mark Hefflinger held a sign that read “Keep Our Water Blue.” Hefflinger works for a political advocacy group called Bold Alliance and he explained the sign is recycled—on the other side, it read “Stop the Transcanada Pipeline.”

“People come at [these pipeline fights] from so many different angles,” he said.

In fact, that’s why Hefflinger thinks the anti-pipeline movement has been so successful—whether people are concerned about climate change, fracking, water issues or tribal sovereignty, they can unite behind a single goal—in this case, stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline from being built. When Bernie Sanders addressed a crowd in Washington, D.C., Tuesday, he came at the pipeline from his usual angle, talking about corporate greed.

“We cannot allow our drinking water to be poisoned so that a handful of fossil fuel companies can make even more in profits,” Sander said to cheers.

On the ground in North Dakota, the various reasons for people’s protests have coalesced around a common goal: perseverance.

On Friday, the Obama administration halted construction of the pipeline on federal land near the Missouri river while the Army Corps of Engineers reviews its permitting decisions. The administration also asked Energy Transfer Partners, the company developing the project, to voluntarily stop building 20 miles east and west of the Missouri. The company has not said whether it will fully halt construction in that area, but it did remove some equipment from sites near the protest camps.

But the administration’s call for a pause seems to have done little to quell the fervor among protesters. Police arrested 22 demonstrators Tuesday who had entered the pipeline construction site about 80 miles west of the main protest. Some of those protesters had chained themselves to construction equipment and were charged with criminal trespass.

Nicholas Wagner of the Yaqui tribe says demonstrators need to fight until they’ve won.

“It’s so important for people to be here, not to leave,” he said.

There is already a chill in the North Dakota air, but many protesters, including Wagner, say they are undeterred—they are planning to stay through the winter.

Read entire article here

Posted by Teri Perticone

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