Standing Rock Violence And Media Blackout Continues, Trump Dumps His ETP Stock

On this celebratory day of Thanksgiving, it is worthwhile remembering that in 1621 a treaty was forged with Massasoit, the leader of the Wampanoag tribe, yet now in 2016 Native Americans are fighting for the simple right to protect their water, a precious natural resource, while there is a virtual media blackout in effect at Standing Rock.

In April, a large number of tribes got together and decided that they fervently objected to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline Project, a 1,172 mile long, 30-inch diameter pipeline which would connect Three Forks and Bakken production sites to the state of North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Thousands of Native Americans from different tribes have voiced their opposition to this project, including the Navajo, Cherokee, Crow, Oglala Sioux, Dakota, Lakota, Comanche, Hopi, Apache, and Tlingit.

This Dakota Access Pipeline Project aims to drill under the Missouri River in order to move 470,000 barrels of crude oil through it each day. Yet there are 18 million people who depend upon the water that this line will run straight through. It should also be noted that this line will run roughshod over the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, something that should be forbidden by law.

The Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) claim is that they received all of the licenses and permits that are required by the federal government in order for them to build the pipeline, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is adamant in insisting that these were given without a proper environmental assessment or even a real consultation and, most importantly of all, free, prior, and informed consent, which is an absolute requirement under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In an ominous turn of events, Donald Trump is reported to have sold all of his of shares with Energy Transfer Partners this summer, which was listed as being worth between $500,000 and $1 million in 2015. The reason for this sale? Either because his shares had dropped to a mere $50,000, or because he would rather not get involved in a conflict of interest, especially as he has promised to make permits for oil and gas much easier and faster to attain.

From the very start of this process, ETP has taken no notice whatsoever of the concerns of any of the tribes at Standing Rock, not listening to their very real worries of water contaminated by oil. In fact, even the North American Energy News industry newsletter has gone on record stating that that ETP has never really bothered to listen to anybody.

“Instead of trying really, really hard not to make more enemies and use a common sense approach to resolving conflict, the exact opposite approach was used by the company and its supporters. From the beginning, everyone on the industry side has played hardball.”

David Archambault, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman, has explained that far from having an exemplary track record, ETP’s history gives those at Standing Rock grave cause for concern.

“At the heart of our grievances is our water. ETP has a terrible water track record, with pending contamination lawsuits in four states. Just last month there was another leak at one of the company’s subsidiary pipelines in Pennsylvania. Would you trust this company with your water?”

With Native American tribes and members of the public protesting, it’s worth remembering that they are up against a very real and formidable foe in Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Militarized police have recently caused over 300 injuries with 26 of those injuries listed as serious, with many people having to be taken away by ambulance to local hospitals. One woman, Sophia Wilansky, has even received such a severe injury that her arm will need to be amputated, and that injury is a direct result of being struck by a concussion grenade.

As temperatures continue to plummet down to the 20’s, police clad in riot gear are spraying peaceful protesters and activists with water cannons and hoses, with a large number of people being treated for hypothermia as a direct result of their exposure to water at such extremely freezing temperatures outside. Protesters are also being shot at with rubber bullets as well as tear gas.

It seems unconscionable that such senseless violence is being perpetrated against those who are simply trying to protect water at Standing Rock. But the violence continues, and there are now reports that chemical agents are being used on protesters by aircraft that are flying at night, under cover of darkness.

The only politician right now who is speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline is Bernie Sanders, who only days ago told President Obama that Standing Rock should be declared a federal monument in order to stop the pipeline construction. Obama, for his part, has said that there may be a way to move the pipeline in order to protect sacred lands, but that he was going to “let it play out for several more weeks” before he made any decisions.

In the meantime, Native Americans and those who care about safe, unpolluted water and sacred lands will continue to peacefully protest at Standing Rock in the hopes that someone, somewhere will put an end to the pipeline and the violence.

[Featured Image by Morton County Sheriff’s Department/AP Images]

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