Police forcibly remove Dakota Access pipeline protesters

In Cannon Ball, a battle is being waged.

Thousands of demonstrators have assembled in the North Dakota community over the past two months to oppose the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

In late October, tensions escalated as hundreds of armed law enforcement officers moved in to force activists from a camp on private property owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

Officers on Oct. 27 fired beanbags and pepper spray in one six-hour operation and arrested 141 people opposing the pipeline’s construction. Law enforcement planned to turn the site over to private security officers, raising concerns about the potential for more armed conflict.

By early Oct. 28, statements of support for the activists were pouring in from around the world.

“Greenpeace stands in solidarity with and lends full support to the water protectors at Standing Rock,” said Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace. “And we recognize the rights and sovereignty of the Standing Rock Sioux, accorded by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. We call on President Obama to use his executive power to revoke the permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline immediately. And we reject the actions of North Dakota law enforcement in favoring the interests of Energy Transfer Partners and the fossil fuel industry over the rights of this land’s inhabitants.”

Solidarity protests were taking place in other parts of the country.

And, in New York City and Washington, D.C., pleas for the presidential candidates to take a stand against the pipeline were made even as news reports revealed GOP nominee Donald Trump owns stock in the pipeline companies.

Violating laws and treaties

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners is the lead company working to complete the 1,200-mile pipeline to carry oil from western North Dakota to Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux reservation lies along the route and opponents say the pipeline endangers water supplies and cultural sites. They further claim that federal approval violates treaties with Dakota, Lakota and Nakota tribes.

“The fast track process of approval disregarded key U.S. legislation, including the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act and offered no proper environmental impact statement or substantive tribal consultation,” Leonard said.

Standing Rock has gone to federal court to challenge a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision granting permits. In September, a judge denied the tribe’s request to block construction, but three federal agencies ordered a halt on Corps-owned land at Lake Oahe pending Corps review of its decision-making.

Construction has continued on private land and could be completed by the end of the year, which is why law enforcement cleared the camp in late October. Protesters have been putting themselves in the pipeline path.

Creating a fossil-fuel behemoth

Through other channels, pipeline protesters are seeking to block the merger of Spectra Energy Corp. and Enbridge Inc., a big backer of the Dakota Access project.

“While the bold resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline continues in North Dakota, a backroom deal has been brokered to make Big Oil and Gas even stronger,” said Saskia Harak of the nonprofit Food and Water Watch. Enbridge — a major backer of the pipeline — and Spectra are set to merge, creating the largest oil and gas infrastructure company in North America.”

Enbridge is the company responsible for the largest inland oil spill in the history of the United States — the disaster on Michigan’s Kalamazoo River — and has sought to vastly expand its fossil fuel projects in Wisconsin.

“A merger of these companies would increase Big Oil and Gas’ power to control the energy market, grow their ability to influence government regulations and allow them to build more projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Harak said.

Food and Water Watch is encouraging pipeline protesters to contact the U.S. Department of Justice and urge opposition to the merger.

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