Oil and natural gas pipelines have long had priority over land rights in many areas of N. America. The continent is cris-crossed by them and land owners who object to the digging up and installing of high pressure conduits have little rights in dealing with what is generally agreed that the movement of resources is for the common good.
A proposed pipeline in North Dakota, the North Dakota Access Pipeline is facing stiff opposition from the Lakota Sioux have taken a stand against the pipeline crossing their lands at Standing Rock. They have established a village encampment since April to protest the digging up of their land. The proposed route would cross the Missouri River upstream from the reserve. Residents are concerned that a leak would pollute the main source of their drinking water. The ecologically fragile area is also the site of numerous important spiritual locations including burial plots.
The Lakota received bad news this week shortly after being attacked by private security agents who allowed dogs to bite peaceful demonstrators. A judge in Washington DC ruled that the temporary injunction would be set aside and that the pipeline would proceed. The CBC carried disturbing videos of large dogs attacking people on horseback and in the crowds.
Friday the federal government announced that pipeline construction would not proceed on federal lands near Lake Oahe and requested that the pipeline company not work on construction within 20 miles of the lake.
In the past few months about 40 people have been arrested including presidential candidate for the Green Party, Dr. Jill Stein. She has been charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief. She has been accused of spray painting a bulldozer with the words “I approve of this message”.
People have been gathering from various areas to support the Standing Rock Sioux. National Guard members as well as many state law enforcement personnel have gathered in the area as well.
The pipeline, if approved, would transport N. Dakota oil to Illinois and has been justified by some as helping the USA reduce its dependence on foreign oil. That same argument has been used for the transport of natural gas, but much of that product has been shipped offshore.
Christian Science Monitor
Duluth News Tribune
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