The controversy has only increased since I wrote my article this past issue on the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux has now taken their fight to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland in order to gather international support to oppose Energy Transfer Partners and to bring a halt to the entire project.
According to NBC News, Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault II gave a brief two-minute testimony to a 49-member Council, where he called up all parties to stop construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a pipeline that will travel through the Dakotas and Iowa (near Minnesota’s Southwest corner) to eventually connect to a pipeline in Patoka, Ill. The pipeline will transfer 470,000 barrels of oil per day from North Dakota and is run by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP).
The Dakota Access Pipeline is not only corrupt on the grounds of disrupting the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but also because the pipeline will have many negative environmental effects on top of violating multiple acts and treaties put in place for the protection of the Sioux tribe.
While ETP is the main source of the pipeline, a large percent of the money funding the project is coming from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and all of our tax dollars.
Records indicate that as of June, the commonwealth–primarily through pension funds–owned five million shares of ETP, valued at $192 million. Other records indicate that the investment is through the Pennsylvania Public Schools Retirement System (PSERS).
The West Chester University faculty retirement fund is in PSERS, which means that the faculty’s retirement dollars are hard at work building this monstrosity of a pipeline.
The purpose of this article is to present the reasons why you, whether you’re a faculty member or a student at university, should not allow your tax money or retirement pension to support the desecration of indigenous shrines and decimation of the environment.
The primary reason why the creation of this pipeline is unjust is because the pipeline will trespass on land reserved for the Dakota tribes. The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux of 1851 was an agreement between the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota and the U.S. government.
Both the Sisseton and Wahpeton bands of Dakota did not have enough resources and support to provide for their people, so they decided to sell some of their land. In the final agreement, a reservation of 10 miles on either side of the Minnesota River was provided for the tribe.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, the pipeline will run south of Bismarck, ND through the Missouri River, just a half mile north of the tribe’s reservation border. The pipeline will run upstream from the water intake structure the tribe uses for drinking water. An oil spill could pollute the tribe’s water supply, and it could significantly damage their reservation.
Not only could the pipeline have an environmentally damaging effect on the Sioux tribe, but to make matters worse, the Dakota Access workers bull- dozed sacred burial grounds belonging to the Sioux.
According to a statement released on Facebook by Dallas Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, the tribe filed a discovery with a federal judge to indent burial sites that were off-reservation the Friday before Labor Day weekend. In order to halt construction, the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office had to come and officially survey the site,because it was in their jurisdiction.
Dakota Access Pipeline workers bulldozed the sites the weekend of Labor Day, when the tribe wouldn’t have been able to come into court to protest. This violates the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Furthermore, our tax dollars are not only going to the destruction of sacred burial ground, but also to siccing dogs on Native American protestors.
A video taken by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now shows pipeline workers assaulting protestors with attack dogs. Other marchers were blasted with pepper spray. A tribal spokesman and six people, including children, were bitten and 30 people were sprayed with pepper spray or mace.
Along with the National Historic Preservation Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the pipeline violates the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by avoiding the environmental review and public input.
A concept referred to as “segmenting” allows the Army Corps to consider a single oil or gas pipeline as thousands of single, completed projects. This is because ETP obtained a Nationwide Permit 12, a fast track permitting process that has allowed the oil and gas industry to build numerous fossil fuel pipelines, even on private property, without a project-specific environmental review or public input process.
From the tar sands oil spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 2010, to the recent oil pipeline spills in the San Joaquin Valley and Ventura, CA, we cannot afford to put money into another pipeline disaster.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is just another example of an oil pipeline project being permitted without ade- quate public engagement or sufficient environmental review.
Unless we take action, we remain bystanders to radically unfair treatment of Native Americans and potential environmental disaster.
Kinjal Shah is a third-year student majoring in English writings track. She can be reached at KS826308@wcupa.edu.