N.D. pipe­line ac­tivists hit for de­stroy­ing en­vi­ron­ment

Of­fi­cials: Waste, trash could pol­lute wa­ter

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

In the name of sav­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, thou­sands of green ac­tivists fight­ing to stop the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line are mak­ing a huge mess.

Those fa­mil­iar with the camps near Can­non Ball, North Dakota, in­creas­ingly are dis­tressed over the pits of hu­man waste and garbage pock­mark­ing the for­merly pris­tine prairie revered by the Stand­ing Rock Sioux as sa­cred an­ces­tral land.

Rob Keller, spokesman for the Mor­ton County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment, said the protesters are “say­ing one thing and do­ing an­other” when it comes to safe­guard­ing the en­vi­ron­ment.

“We’ve seen pic­tures of trenches and the garbage thrown in there. So that’s pro­tect­ing the land?” said Mr. Keller. “And then the snow came in, and I’m sure it’s just a muddy mess now, be­cause that’s river­bot­tom wa­ter, which is silt. It will be a mess.”

Even Stand­ing Rock Sioux Chair­man David Ar­cham­bault II, who has urged protesters to come “stand with Stand­ing Rock” against the pipe­line, is dis­gusted with how the en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists liv­ing in the camps have treated the fed­eral prop­erty.

“Be­fore this en­tire move­ment started, that was some of the most beau­ti­ful land around,” Mr. Ar­cham­bault told the news web­site Vice. “There was a place down there where ea­gles, over 100 ea­gles would come and land. There were game down there — deer, pheas­ants, elk, geese. Now, it’s oc­cu­pied by peo­ple. And when masses of peo­ple come to one place, we don’t take care of it.”

What’s es­pe­cially alarm­ing is that the camps are lo­cated in a flood plain, mean­ing that the waste and garbage will be car­ried into the Can­non­ball River and the wa­ter sup­ply as the snow melts and sub­merges the area.

Mr. Ar­cham­bault com­pared the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age in­flicted by the protesters to that of fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies.

“We’re no dif­fer­ent than the oil com­pany, if we’re fight­ing for wa­ter,” said Mr. Ar­cham­bault. “What’s go­ing to hap­pen when peo­ple leave? Who has to clean it up? Who has to re­fur­bish it? It’s go­ing to be us, the peo­ple who live here.”

Na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal groups back­ing the protest, in­clud­ing Earthjus­tice, the Sierra Club, 350.org and the In­dige­nous En­vi­ron­men­tal Net­work, did not re­spond to re­quests ask­ing for com­ment, but Green­peace did.

Green­peace spokesman Perry Wheeler said the blame for any dam­age lies with those be­hind the $3.8 bil­lion, 1,172-mile project, which En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners is build­ing al­most en­tirely on pri­vate land in or­der to trans­port oil from the Bakken field in North Dakota to Illi­nois.

“Any en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns sit at the feet of the pipe­line de­ci­sion-mak­ers,” Mr. Wheeler said in an email.

After is­su­ing an ease­ment for a 1,100-foot stretch of fed­eral land in North Dakota, the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers is stalling the project as it re­views the tribe’s con­cerns. The four-state pipe­line is about 90 per­cent com­plete.

“The best way to en­sure the Stand­ing Rock Sioux Tribe and our earth are treated the right way is for the Ad­min­is­tra­tion to stop what should have never started,” said Mr. Wheeler.

State and lo­cal of­fi­cials say they are wor­ried about the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age to the area, but there’s only so much they can do, given that the camps are on fed­eral land.

Scott A. Radig, direc­tor of the state di­vi­sion of waste man­age­ment, said he sent a let­ter with pho­tos of protesters dump­ing and burn­ing waste in pits to the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over the area, but that he has heard noth­ing back. That was in Septem­ber.

“They did not re­spond to us,” said Mr. Radig. “It is fed­eral land, but even though it’s fed­eral land, they still have to fol­low state laws on state man­age­ment prac­tices.”

The Army Corps, In­te­rior Depart­ment and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency did not re­spond im­me­di­ately to a re­quest for com­ment.

Mr. Radig said he has been in con­tact with Ali­son Two Bears, the tribe’s en­vi­ron­men­tal direc­tor.

“She said that when the camp was closed that they would send us their plan for mak­ing sure the site is cleaned up and re­stored to its orig­i­nal con­di­tions,” he said.

De­spite its hard line on other en­vi­ron­men­tal trans­gres­sors, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has given the protesters a pass on camps north of the Can­non­ball River, al­low­ing them to re­main il­le­gally for months and in­sist­ing the ac­tivists will not be re­moved forcibly if they defy a Mon­day dead­line to leave.

“They’re on [what] I’ll call a fed­eral refuge be­cause the Army Corps and the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion have re­fused to de­mand that they leave that fed­eral land,” North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley said in a Thursday in­ter­view with WDAY-AM’s Rob Port.

“We’ve had no au­thor­ity to go in and re­move them,” said Mr. Wrigley, a Repub­li­can. “But now the Army Corps is say­ing they have to leave by the fifth.

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