After thousands of people painstakingly and strenuously protested for clean water and quality of life for months at a time, the country felt a great wash of relief on December 4th, 2016 as the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline came to a halt. It was a victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, it was a victory for indigenous people, and it was a victory for minority groups living through systematic environmental racism. However, Donald Trump just passed an executive order on January 24, 2017, to continue the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Donald Trump just gave the go-ahead to initiate the pain, suffering, and disregard for native lives all over again, while also approving the construction of another controversial pipeline– Keystone XL.
Fulfilling one of his campaign promises, Trump has just proved his sincere disregard for the lives of an entire Native American tribe of 10,000 people, whose primary source of water is the Missouri River– the exact location intended to house a 1,200 mile long pipeline transporting 570,000 barrels of oil each day. This pipeline is directly attacking the quality of life for a tribe who originally owned the land it is being built on since the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1868. The land was given to the Sioux, then quickly and forcibly taken back by the U.S. government only eleven years after it was granted to the tribe. This instance of Donald Trump bolstering the production of DAPL only reinstates the longstanding tradition of xenophobia the United States has always directed toward Native Americans.
When a reporter in the Oval Office asked Trump what he would do about the lives of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe immediately after Trump had signed his executive orders, Trump “put his head down, pursed his lips and looked in the opposite direction.” He then answered another question about his Supreme Court nominee, leaving the concern about the Sioux unanswered.
Keystone XL was another pipeline former president Barack Obama prevented from being constructed due to the fact that “it would undercut American leadership in curbing reliance on carbon energy to address a warming climate.” However, its adverse revival was also announced. This move is far more daunting than a petty action to extinguish the Obama legacy; this move is shamelessly going against former actions to prevent the continuously detrimental impact of climate change. And from a man who does not believe in climate change to begin with, it can unfortunately be assumed that this is only the beginning.
TransCanada stated that the Keystone pipeline would be 1,179 miles long and would carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast. Environmentalists are up in arms at this proposal, claiming that with the current state of the environment, efforts should be pushed to focus on the implementation of alternative energy resources.
Tom Steyer, president of NextGen Climate, stated that “The pipelines are all risk and no reward, allowing corporate polluters to transport oil through our country to be sold on the global market while putting our air and water at serious risk.”
One can anticipate the upheaval of protests from environmentalists and citizens angered at the prospect of discarding Native American lives to shortly ensue following this executive order.
To further educate yourself and donate to the Standing Rock Sioux #NODAPL cause, click here.