Little has been represented in the Feudalistic Corporate Media of late on the dark encroachment of Oil upon the Sacred Burial Grounds on the Sioux Nation. Last night a tipping point was breached by the armed enforcers of that Corporate Empire that hovers over North Dakota like the forked tongued lies of a feudal empire. In sub-freezing cold tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannons and concussion grenades were deployed on 400 protesters trapped on the Backwater Bridge on Highway 1806, just north of the main protest camp.
“They were attacked with water cannons,” said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a Standing Rock Sioux tribe member and founder of the Sacred Stone camp. “It is 23 degrees [-5 °C] out there with mace, rubber bullets, pepper spray, etc. They are being trapped and attacked. Pray for my people.”
And, this in the supposed Land of the Free. No more. Big Oil applying its will and backed by the Feudal Empire of American Law and Justice stomps upon the rights of First Americans in their own lands.
Since the North Dakota Access Pipeline was first announced in 2014, opposition to it has slowly gathered momentum, culminating in high-profile protests last week.
The Reason it is being built?
The oil potential in North Dakota’s Bakken formation is huge. Oil was first discovered there in the 1950s and the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that the region holds an available 7.4 billion barrels of oil.
The 1,172-mile project is expected to carry nearly half a million barrels of crude oil daily—enough to make 374.3 million gallons of gasoline per day—from the hydrofracked sites in the Bakken formation in northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. From Illinois, shippers can access Midwest, East Coast, and Gulf Coast markets. The project is also referred to as the Bakken Oil Pipeline, named for the oil-rich area in North Dakota.
The advent of modern horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has made North Dakota’s Bakken shale one of the largest oil developments in the United States in recent history. Crude oil extraction of North Dakota’s Bakken shale has increased significantly from 309,000 barrels a day in 2010 to more than 1 million barrels a day in 2014.
Supporters of the project argue the pipeline represents the safest and most efficient way to transport Bakken oil. In the absence of sufficient pipeline infrastructure, North Dakota drillers have had to rely on more expensive railroads to ship the oil. With falling oil prices and thinning profit margins, the pipeline offers a cheaper way to transport crude oil. In addition, the project is expected to create more markets and reduce truck and oil train traffic—the latter of which has been a growing concern after a spate of fiery derailments of a train carrying North Dakota crude.
Finally, Dakota Access LLC, the company behind the pipeline, claims that the project produces significant economic benefits. It is expected to create 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs and up to 40 permanent operating jobs. The project is also expected to generate $156 million in sales and income taxes and $55 million in property taxes annually to the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. All these benefits would help offset the total cost of the project, which is estimated at $3.8 billion.
Comparable in size to the rejected Keystone XL, the Bakken pipeline has generated controversy from the beginning and inspired months of protests.
The protests have been the most intense in Sioux County, North Dakota, home of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and a reservation of 8,000 people. The Native American group says the pipeline endangers sacred sites and drinking water resources.
The core of the dispute centers around the issue of tribal sovereignty and claims that the U.S. government approved the project without consulting tribal governance, something they are obligated to do, according to U.S. treaties and the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Thousands of Native Americans from across the country are protesting the pipeline in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux.
The pipeline has also brought together environmentalists and climate activists intent on blocking the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure. They have raised concerns about the dangers of oil spills. A study by the International Energy Agency found that U.S. pipelines spilled three times as much crude oil as trains from 2004 to 2012. Even though pipeline accidents happen less frequently than train accidents—a fact that some people use to argue that transporting oil by pipeline is safer than rail—they can be larger and more difficult to clean up.
Finally, questions have also surfaced about the estimated economic benefits of the project. Dave Swenson at Iowa State University believes that the job numbers have been overstated. While the project claims to create as many as 4,000 construction jobs in Iowa over a one-year period, Swenson puts the number of jobs created at about half that.
Why protests are happening:
Protesters say the Dakota Access Pipeline will threaten the environment and destroy Native American burial sites, prayer sites and culturally significant artifacts. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe says construction of the pipeline — which is currently slated to run under the Missouri River — could affect its drinking water supply and put communities living downstream “at risk for contamination by crude oil leaks and spills.”
Multiple groups have joined the protests over the months.
The Feudal Arm of the Law
Protesters appear to be digging their heels in for the winter by building structures in a protest camp without permits, said the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. The Morton County Sheriffs Department called the incident “an ongoing riot,” and called the demonstrators “very aggressive.” One person was arrested. A spokesman for the sheriffs department said authorities sprayed water to ward off protesters who were lighting fires on and around the bridge.
“Their actions are both illegal and likely insufficient to protect them from the elements,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We’ve seen that many of these protestors are not from North Dakota and may not be familiar with the harshness of our winters, and we urge them to leave the camps and seek appropriate shelter for their own health and safety.”
Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it had delayed construction work on the controversial pipeline to hold further “discussion and analysis” with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. But the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline slammed the latest decision as “lacking legal or factual justification.”
Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners took legal action, asking a federal court to allow them to complete the pipeline.
Dakota Access is a $3.7-billion project that backers have touted as the safest and most efficient way to transport oil, rather than using rail or trucks.
Do Nothing: Obama and the Controversy
Bernie Sanders tweeted that the president “must protect the safety of Native Americans and their supporters who have gathered peacefully to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
President Barack Obama said in an interview Tuesday that members of his administration were devising options to reroute the controversial oil pipeline near a Native American reservation in South Dakota.
It was Obama’s first time commenting in detail on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which was designed to transport crude across a swath of Midwestern US states, including near two major American Indian reservations. Outside one of them, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, activists have set up camp opposing the project. Members of the tribe argue the pipeline could displace burial ground and other sacred land.
Obama, speaking to NowThisNews after a campaign rally in Ohio, said his inclination was to respect the tribe’s concerns.
“As a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans, and I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” Obama said, explaining he was planning to “let it play out for several more weeks” before coming to a final conclusion.
Proponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline argue the project would safely transport crude from oil-rich North Dakota to other states. But worries over ground water safety and spills, along with the tribal concerns, have led to outcry from an array of environmental and Native American groups.
As usual Obama sits idly by and watches, studies, has meetings, discusses, etc., while actual life and violence in the Empire drifts by without him being held responsible or even responsive to the plight of these people who do not want this to happen.
The Hardliners also chime in:
The Obama administration has refused to address the growing hordes of protesters camped out illegally on federal land, hundreds of whom now are spilling into the North Dakota towns of Mandan and Bismarck as the region draws comparisons to a war zone.
“I spent a good portion of my adult life in Iraq, and I must tell you that the similarities are stark,” said retired Army Gen. James “Spider” Marks, who toured the area last week as an adviser to the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now, which supports the pipeline.
“Here we are on American soil,” he said during a press call, “and we have barriers with triple concertina wire, we have observation posts and traffic control points, we have vehicles that have been burned, we have bridges that have been cut.”
There is always another side to everything…
The People of Standing Rock, Cannonball City for the most part want be seen on the protest lines.
No one makes this clearer than Robert Fool Bear Sr., 54, district chairman of Cannon Ball. The town he runs, estimated population of 840, is just a few miles from the action. It’s so close that, given the faceoffs with law enforcement, you have to pass through a police checkpoint to reach it.
It’s about time people heard from folks like him, he says.
Fool Bear has had it with the protesters. He says that more than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn’t care. Now, suddenly, the crowds are out of control, and he fears it’s just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.
Go down to the camps, he says, and you won’t see many Standing Rock Sioux.
“It irks me. People are here from all over the world,” he says. “If they could come from other planets, I think they would.”
The presence of all these people has become a downright nuisance to his community, he says. Given the roadblocks, residents of Cannon Ball are often forced to go more than 40 miles out of their way.
Not long ago, he found three teenage girls from Ontario, Canada, camped out inside his storage shed. A white woman from Spokane, Washington, came to see him for help, saying she’d come here with nothing and her car had broken down. When he was at the casino recently, someone approached him about two young kids who were on their own because their parents had been arrested.
The situation has dissolved to madness, he says, and he wishes Dave Archambault II, the Standing Rock Sioux chairman, would speak up.
“If he had any balls, he’d tell [the protesters] to go home,” Fool Bear says.
And he’s not alone in feeling this way. Two women who listen in as he talks keep nodding in agreement, but they don’t want to speak.
Just look at a recent vote in the community for further proof that Fool Bear’s not the only naysayer. When protest organizers presented a request to build a new winter camp in Cannon Ball earlier this month, his community shot it down.
Of the 88 people who voted, he says 66 were against the camp, less than 10 were for it and the rest remained undecided.
While people worry about Trump and the coming shift in power from Democrats to Republicans, First Americans are having their rights stamped under the American Flag which had already consigned them to these lands long ago. First Americans (the indigenous peoples of this ancient land) are once again proving the old forked tongue theory of diplomacy from the American Empire. There is nothing but lies and broken promises, the breaking of contracts. And, of course, as always under the official Federal and Local Law it’s all prim and proper. Once again the theft of rights, the belligerent Empire of American Justice blind as ever. And, as usual, the people protesting are being blamed for the Law’s use of force against them.
And, to top it off, most of the protest comes from outsiders, not the local people who see this as just a nuisance to their ongoing lives. Sadly one wonders if there isn’t a little bit of the old money stirring the usual pot of political chicanery behind the scenes. Obviously this is an ongoing controversy that has become sidelined in the chaos of the current political climate. One wonders what the outcome will be?