Activists representing a range of special interests called on President Barack Obama to revoke permits for the nearly completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) at a protest outside the White House Tuesday evening.
“When someone stands up for their basic rights we have a responsibility to stand with them,” Van Jones, progressive activist with GreenForAll.org, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Their deeper objective of trying to keep as much oil in the ground as possible is actually very smart. Its not just about their particular water, but also about the whole planet’s climate, and keeping that secure, so their fight is everybody’s fight.”
The pipeline, which is nearly 60 percent complete, won a court victory Friday that allowed Energy Transfer to move forward with construction after environmental activists and leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protested the location of the pipeline. The pipeline runs through North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a key water source for the tribe that also holds spiritual significance.
The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes, along with environmental activists, have blocked construction sites in sometimes violent protests this summer and plan to continue into the fall, reports The Des Moines Register.
Obama swiftly countered the court ruling, ordering pipeline construction to cease until the government can fully assess the environmental impact it may have.
“I’m very proud that President Obama stepped in immediately when the courts got it wrong,” said Jones. “I hope that he will continue to do all that he can to prevent this injustice from happening to the Native American people.”
Jones has a history of lobbying on behalf of Native American communities. Just prior to being appointed as Obama’s environmental czar, Jones loudly exclaimed to a crowd of young people, “Give them the wealth! Give them the wealth! No justice on stolen land … we owe them a debt,” speaking of “our Native American brothers and sisters.”
The $3.8 billion, 1,200 mile long pipeline will carry nearly 600,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois and will create an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 jobs. Supporters say concerns over water contamination are far overblown and note that Energy Transfer worked with the Sioux to reroute the pipeline around 91 various sites considered sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The Sioux argue the pipeline not only puts their water at risk, but tramples on historic sites of great importance and violates their ancestral land. Sen. Bernie Sanders lent his voice to the protest, calling the pipeline an “exploitation” of Native Americans and painting a somewhat apocalyptic picture of the climate’s future. Sanders is introducing a bill to require a full environmental impact review before construction can continue. (RELATED: Obama Halts North Dakota Oil Pipeline After Judge Okays Construction)
“This is going to impact every person on this planet because the debate is over, the scientific community is 100 percent clear,” Sanders said during the protest, citing unknown statistics. “Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity and if we don’t get our act together, the planet that we will be leaving our children and grandchildren will not be a habitable or a livable planet.”
Others who spoke at the protest struck a more moderate position, acknowledging America’s need to continue extracting oil.
“Some people are all or nothing, no pipelines, keep it all in the ground, and I get that, but when we are using 20 million barrels a day we can’t do that,” Chase Iron Eyes, a candidate for Congress in North Dakota with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, told TheDCNF. “What I’m concerned about is, lets make sure that the infrastructure is not destroying or putting at risk our more important resources, which are going to be important to my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.”
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