A longstanding protest against a Texas-based energy company’s plan to build a pipeline near tribal lands in North Dakota turned violent against construction crews and a limited security team over the Labor Day weekend.
Various videos and local reports have confirmed that “hundreds” of Native American protesters and supporters of the Standing Rock Sioux turned violent at a construction site under the management of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners near Cannon Ball, ND. The Associated Press reported that four private security guards and two dogs were injured in the incident as a result, according to the Morton County Sherriff’s Office. Though protesters have asserted through a variety of mediums that they were the ones first attacked, many of their own videos purport to show the opposite occurred.
A spokesperson for the Dallas pipeline company told the AP that violence first began when protesters breached a fenced security perimeter and “attacked” the construction crew on the site. Videos uploaded by protesters and supportive media purport to show that the few private security guards were armed only with radios, pepper spray and leashed dogs while unidentifiable objects were hurled at them.
Protesters are also seen encroaching further onto construction areas and rushing vehicles. No local law enforcement are visible within the videos and Energy Transfer contends to the AP that none were anywhere on site at the time.
Video uploaded on September 4 depicts a calmer scene after local police stood to enforce security lines, though many of the same protesters from previous clips can still be seen.
A tribal spokesman claimed that 30 protesters were pepper-sprayed while six received dog bites overall.
Breitbart Texas previously reported on the brewing protest in April when sit-in demonstrations first occurred. A key driver of outrage was due to concerns that potential pipeline leaks could affect potable water the local tribe relies on. The Dallas company said at the time that the “[pipeline] does not cross any reservation land” and, where necessary, “mutually agreeable easement” deals were struck with “various tribes”. No construction is planned on the lands held by the Standing Rock Sioux.
Breitbart Texas further reported:
Although the pipeline would not directly encroach on any of the lands belonging to the tribe in question, an environmental assessment provided to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was issued to assuage concerns over possible environmental impacts and other matters, should the pipeline leak in the future. USACE is the governing entity due to its flowage easements currently held on the lands in contention. The 983-page document, prepared by Dakota Access, LLC (a Houston-based subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners) argues that the preferred construction plan is optimal “because it best meets the purpose and need while avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating environmental impacts.” The report declared that any environmental impacts would be “temporary and not significant” and explained that the pipe would be run beneath the Missouri River/Lake Oahe thanks to horizontal directional drilling. The company justifies the effort by claiming it would parallel existing utility corridors and cross other lands with similar pre-existing easements.
The Army Corps of Engineers took ownership of Dakota Access, LLC’s findings in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other related federal regulations. A period of public comment closed on the matter in January.
After the environmental assessment was released, the Environmental Protection Agency led a letter campaign to slow the project further.
Philip S. Strobel, Director of NEPA Compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Ecosystems Protection has repeatedly called on the Army to reconsider its adopted findings, demanding a second period of public comment and “provide a more thorough Environmental Justice (EJ) analysis” in a March letter. The communique hints to further complaints of minority disparate impacts should the construction continue as planned. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation echoed many of the EPA’s concerns in March letters as well. The Army’s EJ section of their report contends holders of mineral rights along lands in question have “witnessed a recent windfall” from the infrastructure improvements in recent years. All three letters complain that the Army and pipeline developers failed to directly cooperate with any tribal parties of interest, Standing Rock Sioux in particular. Energy Transfer Partners stressed to Breitbart Texas that “we reached a mutually agreeable easement with our friends and neighbors the Three Affiliated Tribes,” based in New Town, ND.
“An [environmental impact study] is simply not required or needed … any suggestion of such is misleading” and would be a waste of taxpayer funds, the company stressed in its emailed statement.
The pipeline is to span from the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas 1,168 miles through South Dakota and Iowa to Patoka, Illinois, for refining and distribution. The 30-inch, $3.8 billion line is expected to facilitate a maximum daily capacity of 570,000 barrels of crude. Energy Transfer Partners hopes to see the asset online by fourth quarter 2016.
Logan Churchwell is the Assistant Editor and a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. You can follow him on Twitter @LCChurchwell.