2,000 veterans go to Standing Rock

2,000 veterans go to Standing Rock

Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing

Army Corps of Engineers Denies Easement for Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing

By Rachael Fisher

The permit for a key section of the Dakota Access Pipeline that would allow it to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota has been denied by the Army Corps of Engineers. The decision, announced by the Army’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, marks a hard-earned victory for the Standing Rock Sioux “water protectors” and their allies just as the “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” group began arriving in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

The veteran’s group organized thousands of veteran volunteers to act as human shields in front of the “water protectors” after recent reports of increasingly violent clashes with heavily armed police from the Morton County Sheriff’s Department as well as police reinforcements from several other states and National Guardsmen.

In a historic gathering, more than 300 tribes are represented at the Oceti Sakowin Camp to support the Standing Rock Sioux as they object to Texas-based Energy Transfer Partner’s $3.8 billion pipeline that is proposed to run a half-mile from the border of their reservation. Tribal officials repeatedly expressed concerns over the risk that a pipeline rupture or spill could pose to the tribe’s water supply and treaty rights.

Since the camp was established, in April, protestors have aimed to be peaceful. However, in late October and November tensions boiled over leading to hundreds of arrests as well as numerous physical injuries including hypothermia said to result from aggressive police tactics which used water hoses against protestors despite North Dakota’s freezing temperatures.

Veterans, like much of the rest of the country, are divided in their views of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council, representing five veterans’ organizations in the state, held a news conference to decry the involvement of the “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock” group prior to its arrival.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the State of North Dakota have each issued eviction notices for the Oceti Sakowin Camp. In an interview with Reuters, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault said that non-Sioux protestors could go home as no action is expected now until late January when President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

Though they celebrate the Corps decision, the Standing Rock Sioux are preparing for a protracted struggle as Trump’s transition team said he will support the pipeline.

Energy Transfer Partners says it still expects to complete the project without a reroute. It called the Obama administration’s decision a “political action.”

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