Cautious victory at Standing Rock – ‘Will the company behind the pipeline pack up and leave?’
12/07/2016 // Vicki Batts // Views

On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would not permit a section of the Dakota Access Pipeline to pass under the Missouri River, near Native American tribal lands. In some ways this is a triumphant moment for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies, who have been in a standoff with officials for months. Since August, the Standing Rock tribe has been peacefully protesting the pipeline's construction, in an effort to protect their land, their water and their sacred sites.

Even though they may be celebrating, the Standing Rock Sioux aren't going anywhere, any time soon. After the news of the pipeline being blocked went out, enormous cheering could be heard from the crowd of water protectors at their main encampment, Oceti Sakowin. Singing, praying, weeping with joy – and in some cases with disbelief – people were overwhelmed with emotion. Some even lined up for a procession on horseback. And, as then sun went down a few hours later, the sky lit up with fireworks.

Dave Archambault II, the Standing Rock tribal chairman, told the crowd, “It’s wonderful. You all did that. Your presence has brought the attention of the world," according to The New York Times.

Unfortunately, good news rarely comes without bad news – especially when it comes to matters like this. Just an hour or so after the Army Corps of Engineers made their initial announcement, concerns began to rise. While not quite a fact, but certainly more than just a rumor, it had been suggested that there was substantial reason to suspect that Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the pipeline, had plans to keep drilling in a refusal to acknowledge the order.


At around 11 o'clock that night, the corporation released a rather aggressive statement, along with Sunoco Logistics. Energy Transfer Partners all but promised to keep drilling, and even went so far as to accuse the Obama administration of bringing the DAPL to a stop purely to “curry favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.” The statement also chastised the administration for their "overt and transparent political actions," and said that they had "abandoned the rule of law."

And for their final, hypocritical dismissal, the ETP's statement read:

"As stated all along, ETP and SXL are fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way."

It is interesting that an organization that has reportedly committed several federal violations with the attempted construction of this pipeline, would dare to suggest that others are not following the rules, and then cry about it. As the Camp of the Sacred Stones reports, Executive Order 12898 dictates that, "All agencies must determine if proposed project disproportionately impacts Tribal community or otherminority [sic] community." According to them, the pipeline would cross critical sources of drinking water. Those behind the DAPL have refrained from publicizing information on their emergency plan, or what the max potential for a spill would be – things they are supposed to have been accounted for by now.

That is not the only violation, either; there are plenty more. Understandably, therefore, the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies are reluctant to believe that their work is done. Despite the quickly dropping temperatures, many people are inclined to stay. No one wants to leave until they know that the DAPL will be no more. Richard Bluecloud Castaneda, a 46-year-old artist from San Francisco, stated, “Not ‘til the lights turn off and they take down that roadblock."

Castaneda went on to say, "We don't trust anything they say."

Can you blame them?


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