DAPL needs to be stopped by executive action

Daily Editorial Board

After months of protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline, the construction seemed to have come to a standstill by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. President Obama has recently made remarks about alternative routes that are actively being pursued. Over the past week however, the situation has taken a dark turn with protesters being severely hurt by both water cannons in freezing temperatures and what appears to be concussions from fired grenades.

The Army Corps of Engineers told protesters on Friday they must leave their encampment — which is on Army Corps managed land — by Dec. 5, or they will be prosecuted for trespassing. On Sunday, the Corps clarified their statement, saying they will not forcibly remove people. Instead, they’re seeking the protesters’ peaceful transition to a “safer location.”

The group explains that the request is due to concerns about protestors’ safety as winter sets in, and in light of last week’s violence. Though, it is important to note that the violence was wrought by law enforcement officers whose presence is ostensibly to placate protesters.

We are saddened by the Obama administration’s inaction in stopping the Dakota Access Pipeline and all its ensuing problematic features.

President Obama should put a stop to the pipeline before his term ends. The pipeline’s impact on the Standing Rock Sioux and other American Indian nations is unconscionable. Its construction would indefinitely destroy lives and set a dangerous precedent — showing that the US values corporate interest over lives.

Our vigilance for the construction of the pipeline must continue no matter how the situation in North Dakota plays out — the fight isn’t over. Prior to the standstill, construction failed to stop despite several warnings from the Army Corps. This shows the lack of willingness of the parent company — Energy Transfer Partners — to cooperate with authorities.

The record of the next presidential administration doesn’t help either. President-elect Donald Trump has many alleged investments in ETP. Furthermore, many of the concerns over the environmental harms of the pipeline are associated with climate change, which Myron Ebell — the newly-elected lead for Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team — doesn’t believe in.

Despite the discussion of climate change, issues with oil leaks simply cannot be overlooked. Pipeline spills are common: Last year, a significant spill occurred every three days. In the first eight months of this year, there have already been 80 pipeline leaks. These leaks can have catastrophic consequences on nearby wildlife and water supply.

The Dakota Access Pipeline epitomizes the unwillingness of corporations and our own government to respect the autonomy and the rights of American Indians.

This is no longer simply an issue of economics — it’s a question of human rights. Now is not the time to forget the work that must be done.

Editor’s Note: The editorial has been updated to reflect recent news developments.