In recent weeks, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have reached national news, provoking comparisons to the widespread publicity around the Keystone XL pipeline. The tribe, however, has been protesting (or, in their preferred term, “protecting”) since 2014. The tribe filed a lawsuit on July 27, 2016 against the U.S. Army Corps and Dakota Access, LLC, claiming that the proposed Dakota Access pipeline threatens their reservation’s only water source and ancient sacred sites. Some of these sites have already been destroyed, and peaceful protesters have been met with force by security guards armed with mace and dogs. The judge involved in the case has also rejected a temporary injunction, which would have halted construction until the case was resolved.
Fortunately for the community at Standing Rock, three departments of the federal government released a statement today announcing a halt to all construction under and around Lake Oahe. The Justice Department, the Department of the Army, and the Department of the Interior cited a need to determine whether the previous decision of the U.S. Army Corps to grant the pipeline construction request is in compliance with all federal laws; they also highlighted a need for government-to-government consultations to be held this fall in an effort to improve communication between tribes and the U.S. government around construction near sacred sites.
People across the country have been mobilizing in response to the protests and the violence which the tribe’s water protectors have been met. There was an action in Cambridge this past Thursday, for instance. A series of additional demonstrations are coming up in the Boston area over the next week:
- Tuesday, September 13, 8-10am outside of South Station (for more information: contact Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Saturday, September 17, 11 am- 3pm, Boston Common Park St T. This action will be calling on TD Bank to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline (see the facebook event page).
- If you’d like to organize an action near you, click here!
Donations of money and supplies are also being accepted by the water protectors (see this list of legal and financial ways to help).
As the case moves forward, remember that you can get involved in environmental justice work local to your area. It is important for non-Native protestors and accomplices to recognize that this is not only a climate issue, but a justice one. Indigenous people have faced resource extraction on their land for centuries, often without their permission or with any benefits provided to tribes. Seek out articles by indigenous writers on the Dakota Access Pipeline (such as this one). Read up on the history of relations between the U.S. government and tribes in your area. If you are a non-Native person organizing with indigenous groups, defer to native leadership and honor the struggle that has been going on for over 500 years.
On August 17, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the proposed pipeline tax, which we have been advocating against since it was first proposed during the Patrick administration, which we helped persuade over 2/3rds of the legislature to formally come out against and kept from being affirmed in the legislature, and which we just marched 43 miles to defeat, is illegal.
The pipeline tax is dead!
This tremendous victory is thanks to many people, from the Conservation Law Foundation, who helped lead the legal case against the tax, to our partners across the state (especially the Mass Power Forward coalition), to every one of you who took action and spoke out.
Our constant, large presence at DPU hearings, our lobbying, and most recently our march helped show deep public opposition to this tax. Judges are supposed to act as impartial arbiters of the law, but it certainly did not hurt our case for those judges to read, hear, or watch the many, many stories about our opposition to this project. Most importantly, our movement blocked the legislature from passing a law in favor of the pipeline tax. If we hadn't, this case would have been irrelevant.
It is unclear how much this will be a fatal blow to any of Spectra’s proposed projects, but we have absolutely undercut their financing (to the tune of $3 billion), called into question similar pipeline tax proposals in other states, and have given Spectra’s investors greater reason for pause. Either way, we have unambiguously won a victory and established a precedent that the people’s money should be not used for private projects that further commit us to climate catastrophe.
Thank you for all of you who came out to DPU hearings, who sat in on the SJC hearing, who lobbied your legislators against the pipeline tax, who marched one mile of the march, who drove a support vehicle, who donated food, who marched all forty-three miles. Our movement shares in this victory, and it is just as much yours as anyone else’s. Onward!
This is a historic moment: all over the world, people are taking bold direct action to stop new oil, coal and gas infrastructure and demand climate solutions. This July, we're bringing the momentum to Massachusetts with a massive march and action against new gas pipelines. Join us!
We'll spend Thursday, July 14 and Friday, July 15 walking the route of Spectra's proposed Access Northeast pipeline, building community and training ourselves in direct action as we go. On July 16, we'll march to West Roxbury to shut down construction on the Spectra pipeline there, alongside our partners from Resist the Pipeline. Finally, we'll walk together to the State House, where we'll take bold, visionary action together to show Governor Baker, and our legislators, that we're ready to do what it takes to stop new fossil fuel pipelines.
The timing couldn't be better: our legislators and governor are on the verge of major decisions about pipelines and our state's energy future. This summer could be a turning point for our state, and our climate. You won't want to miss it!