Dakota Access pipeline protesters promise struggle during their ‘last stand’
CANNON BALL, N.D. — Construction of the Dakota Access pipeline under a North Dakota reservoir has begun and the full pipeline should be operational within three months, the developer of the long-delayed project said on Thursday, even as an American Indian tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply.
The Army granted Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) formal permission on Wednesday to lay pipe under Lake Oahe, clearing the way for completion of the 1,200-mile, 3.8 (b) billion US dollars pipeline.
Opponents meanwhile protested around the country in an action some dubbed their “last stand.”
Work had been stalled for months due to opposition by the Standing Rock Sioux, but US President Donald Trump last month instructed the Army Corps of Engineers to advance pipeline construction.
The tribe fears a pipeline leak could contaminate its drinking water. ETP says the pipeline is safe.
Some members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been at the center of the debate for nearly a year, urged “emergency actions” via social media. The Indigenous Environmental Network told people to target fuel-transportation hubs and government buildings and to expect violence and mass arrests.
Protesters posted an online list of about 50 events nationwide.
The Cheyenne River Sioux on Thursday asked a federal judge to stop the Lake Oahe work while a lawsuit filed earlier by the two tribes against the pipeline proceeds.
At a North Dakota encampment that’s been the focus of the pipeline battle for months, the mood was tense, with a few dozen people milling about on a frigid morning talking about their plans to keep fighting.
“Things have gotten more intense and it’s getting more scary. None of our people have any fear but we’re just kind of more cautious,” said Mercedes Terrance, Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe. “If they try to come in, they’re going to have one hell of a struggle. There’s a lot of people here that won’t back down and won’t go home because of this. A lot of people are really passionate about it. They’re not going to just leave.”
“All I’m going to do is pray for them, for their hearts because they are coming in here with what you see which is the youth, which are women, which are are elders,” said Maya Rose Berko, a protester.