DAPL Protests Garnering More Attention Since Trump Victory

By Connor Mantey,

Photo Courtesy: rblood/Flickr

Photo Courtesy: rblood/Flickr

In the early hours of 9 November, world leaders both reigning and deposed took to Twitter to textually genuflect to former reality show host and projected Electoral College winner Donald Trump. Among those who felt the need to offer their felicitations was Stephen Harper, who along with positing that the “Canada/US partnership is strong,” insisted on “moving ahead” with the Keystone Pipeline. Indeed, now that the GOP controls the White House and both houses of the US congress, top Republicans like senate majority leader Mitch McConnell are petitioning WWE Hall of Famer Trump to approve the project previously vetoed by President Obama. Outflanked by the collective American Right, Trudeau faces considerable difficulty in implementing his environmental policy; interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose, emboldened by Golden Raspberry winner Trump’s victory, calls Trudeau’s federal carbon tax price floor “complete insanity.” Desperate to reassure the ecological wing of Trudeau’s coalition, Natural Resources minister Jim Carr announced a pivot towards exporting oil to Asian markets, so as to preserve the government’s stance on pipelines while allowing the state broadcaster to post a story announcing, “Keystone XL no longer crucial for Canada’s oil exports.”

In this, the third consecutive hottest year in meteorological record, the world’s largest economy has chosen for its leader a man who dismisses global warming as a “Chinese hoax” and has chosen the fossil fuel industry stooge Myron Ebell to lead the EPA “transition.” In this twilight before the long night of ecological disaster inevitable under the administration of former Pizza Hut spokesman Donald J. Trump, the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline project have garnered more attention than they ever have since they began this January.

The 3.7 billion dollar project proposed by a consortium of energy companies led by Energy Transfer Partners and funded by a global roster of banks seeks to link the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota with Patoka in southern Illinois from where half a million barrels of crude oil would be distributed among existing pipelines. Although approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the process in doing so was apparently expedited as the proposed path grazes the reserve of the Standing Rock Sioux who have petitioned to rescind the federal government’s approval as the construction of the pipeline threatens to pollute their watershed and desecrate their ancestral patrimony. Through continued coverage from local media and alternative news sites, the Standing Rock Sioux and their coalition of other indigenous tribes and environmental activists earned the sympathies of net denizens around the world, leading to their being joined by celebrity activists like Leonardo DiCaprio, LeVar Burton, and Shailene Woodley, who following the example of Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman – criminally charged with trespassing in September – was arrested last month and charged with criminal trespassing and engaging in a riot.

The unwillingness of the mainstream press to cover these protests has lead to an acute and sustained violent counter-revolt from local authorities and mercenary third parties. Dogs have been unleashed with impunity, local wild buffalo have been fenced off without food or water, last week a rogue driver ran over a pair of protesters, and discharged several rounds from his firearm. More than a symbolic resistance to an expansion of fossil fuel exploitation, #noDAPL seeks to stave off an existential threat to North Dakota’s indigenous peoples from an imperial power that allowed 220 “significant” pipeline leaks just this year. While the President meagerly reacts to this outrage by mulling over route deviations for DAPL, Senator Bernie Sanders came out against the whole project in front of the white house on last Tuesday’s worldwide day of action. If we are to prevent climate change from annihilating human civilization, we must reject milquetoast “all of the above” energy strategies from neoliberals Obama, Clinton, and Trudeau, and resist the effort to expand the fossil fuel industry by even a single pipeline.