By Nathan Traini
Staff Writer & Reporter
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – A pipeline carrying crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois is under contention as the largest Native American gathering in 100 years protests against the pipeline and for their rights to clean water and prayer sites.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a 30-inch diameter, underground pipeline, which is nearly set to carry sweet (meaning there’s less sulfur) crude oil 1,172 miles under many bodies of fresh water, like the Little Missouri River, the Missouri River, Lake Oahe (the main water source for 18 million people including the Standing Rock Tribe according to Jordan Chariton, Reporter for The Young Turks) and the Mississippi River. All of this is according to Energy Transfer Partners, the company which is building the DAPL.
Sunoco bought out Energy Transfer in 2012, says EnergyTransfer.com. That’s important to know because Sunoco has the worst track record for pipeline leaks in the entire industry. According to a Reuters analysis of government data concerning pipeline leaks since 2010, Sunoco has been responsible for over 200 out of a total number of 1,739 incidents (that last number came from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration). Last October, a Sunoco pipeline in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into Wallis Run, a tributary to the Loyalsock Creek, just 15 miles north of the Susquehanna River according to fortune.com.
The CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren went on PBS to discuss the DAPL and his company’s history. The reporter from PBS asked Warren about the history of leaks which was laid out earlier.
“I disagree with the statistic about Sunoco Logistics,” said Warren. The CEO didn’t give out any other statistics or facts that conflict with the statistics gathered by the U.S. Government and Reuters.
The people who are protesting at Standing Rock Reservation are not limited to the largest Native American gathering in recent history. Many people, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, actress Shailene Woodley, former Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein, and environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others from all over the country are at Standing Rock protesting the completion of the DAPL. Since the protests began, there has been a disproportionate response from the police and private security to the peaceful protest.
According to Democracy Now!, on November 29, the National Lawyers Guild “filed a class action lawsuit against Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, Morton County and other law enforcement agencies, arguing they are using excessive force against Native American water protectors.”
This past week police used fire hoses on unarmed protesters in sub freezing temperatures, causing severe hypothermia according to several sources including The Intercept. “It was sprayed more as a mist, and we didn’t want to get it directly on them,” said The Morton County Sheriff’s Department. Given that, video from Digital Smoke Signals’ drones show a high-pressure stream of water aimed directly at protesters, which can be seen on The Majority Report with Sam Seder.
During the use of water cannons to repel the unarmed protesters, a woman among the protesters named Sophia Wilansky, was hit with a concussion grenade in the arm which exploded and tore most of her flesh away revealing bone, witnesses at the protests said. She is making a recovery, but might lose the limb, according to CNN.
“Private, unlicensed security” sicked dogs on unarmed American citizens using their constitutional right to protest, according to Democracy Now!. Democracy Now! also had video evidence of the dog incident and other video depicting a man with an assault rifle approaching the protesters’ camp. The video goes on to show a multitude of unarmed protesters backing the armed man out of the campsite. Later, a badge was found on the campsite that belonged to the armed man, and revealed him to be a member of DAPL private security.
A reporter named Jordan Chariton from The Young Turks, an internet news program, has been at Standing Rock reporting on things from the protester’s point of view. Video Chariton shot and video gathered from various drones flown by the protesters show that the protesters are explicitly peaceful. All of which can be seen on TYT Politics’ YouTube channel playlist labeled “Native Americans Fight Dakota Access Pipeline.”
Chariton and the Native Americans have referred to the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1868, which outlines a huge portion of land that was set aside for the Native Americans after repeated bloody disputes in the 1800s between the U.S. and the Sioux Nation. The pipeline goes just north of the current recognized Standing Rock Reservation, but cuts directly through the land the treaty, which stands today, gave them exclusive rights to according to the treaty which can be seen in it’s entirety at ourdocuments.gov.
Journalists have been jailed, not because they were protesting, but for reporting on the aggressive police line. Some of these journalists/documentarians include two from Unicorn Riot, an alternative news source, Amy Goodman, a journalist and host of Democracy Now! and Emmy-Winning filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, who were all documenting the protests.
Prayer sights which contain burial grounds for Native American ancestors have been bulldozed and others blocked off with razor wire, according to Chariton and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.