It’ll Be A Rough Thanksgiving For Dakota Pipeline Opponents

Chris White | Energy Reporter

The Obama administration’s decision to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline probably won’t give protesters or the developers much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

President Barack Obama’s decision in September to temporarily scuttle the so-called DAPL seriously puts a damper on the holiday activities for those opposing the pipeline and for the company behind the project.

The $3.8 billion pipeline, set to run 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois, was delayed so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers could determine its environmental impact.

The most violent clashes took place less than a week before Thanksgiving, and ultimately resulted in police officers using water cannons on nearly 400 protesters in below-freezing temperatures.

One of the demonstrators — New York resident Sophia Wilansky — could lose her left arm after an explosion behind a blockade near the oil pipeline’s construction site ripped through her winter jacket.

Eye witnesses say Wilansky was injured when law enforcement officials lobbed a concussion grenade into a pile of protesters during a volatile demonstration. Wilansky was reportedly bent over the grenade before it exploded.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the department was not responsible for Wilansky’s mangled limb. He told reporters shortly after the incident that her injuries were likely caused by an incendiary device concocted by the protestors themselves.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to douse the unruly activists prompted civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union to howl indignation.

“Almost the entire camp was in shock,” one of the protesters told reporters after the incident.”They talk about using non-lethal weapons, but when you’re talking about soaking people with freezing water in frigid temperatures, that’s life-threatening.”

The temporary freeze no doubt filled DAPL’s opponents with the belief that they could still stop the project’s construction, even as the company behind it continues to assert its desire to see the project through.

The protests have been anything but peaceful, Kelcy Warren, Energy Transfer Partner’s CEO, told reporters on Nov. 17. “If they want to stick around and continue to do what they’re doing, great,” he added, “but we’re building the pipeline.”

Some of Standing Rock Sioux’s chief concerns — that the pipeline will poison its water source and that its construction will trample the tribe’s land — have been addressed.

The DAPL route, for one, does not cut through Standing Rock’s reservation — in fact, the entire area is privately owned, meaning the route is located several miles North of the tribe’s ancestral land.

Standing Rock finalized a years-long plan to move its water source 70 miles downstream of the project, essentially rendering moot some of the Standing Rock’s most pertinent concerns.

The decision to place a water treatment plant several miles downwind of the pipeline’s location, environmental analysts argue, may dispel concerns associated with the project.

Still, it’s Thanksgiving and Obama has yet to officially place a timeline for approval of the project.

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