Dakota Access Fight Provides Blueprint for Pipeline Protests

By Nicholson, Blake | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), April 3, 2017 | Go to article overview

Dakota Access Fight Provides Blueprint for Pipeline Protests


Nicholson, Blake, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


BISMARCK, N.D. * Prolonged protests in North Dakota have failed to stop the flow of oil through the Dakota Access pipeline, at least for now, but they have provided inspiration and a blueprint for protests against pipelines in other states.

The months of demonstrations that sought to halt the four-state pipeline have largely died off with the clearing in February of the main protest camp and the completion of the pipeline, which will soon be moving oil from North Dakota to a distribution point in Illinois.

Four Sioux tribes are still suing to try to halt the project, which they say threatens their water supply, cultural sites and religious rights. But they've faced a string of setbacks in court since President Donald Trump moved into the White House.

Despite the setbacks, Dakota Access protest organizers don't view their efforts as wasted. They say the protests helped raise awareness nationwide about their broader push for cleaner energy and greater respect for the rights of indigenous people.

"The opportunity to build awareness started at Standing Rock and it's spreading out to other areas of the United States," said Dave Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has led the legal push to shut down the pipeline project.

As protesters left the area in southern North Dakota where the Dakota Access pipeline crosses under a Missouri River reservoir that serves as the tribes' water supply, organizers called on them to take the fight to other parts of the country where pipelines are in the works.

The tactics used in North Dakota resistance camps, prominent use of social media, online fundraising are now being used against several projects. They include the Sabal Trail pipeline that will move natural gas from Alabama to Florida; the Trans-Pecos natural gas pipeline in Texas; the Diamond pipeline that will carry oil from Oklahoma to Tennessee; and the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline that will move natural gas from Pennsylvania to Virginia.

They're also being used against projects that are still in the planning stages, including the proposed Pilgrim oil pipeline in New York and New Jersey and the proposed Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana.

Dakota Access opponents have also vowed to fight against the resurgent Keystone XL pipeline, which would move crude oil from Canada to Nebraska and on to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. …

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