Dakota pro­test­ers defy tribe’s plea to leave af­ter pipe­line rul­ing.

Pipe­line ac­tivists vow to re­main, cit­ing fears of Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux chair­man called Mon­day for non-tribal ac­tivists to leave the protest area now that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has blocked the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line, but they’re not go­ing any­where.

Protest lead­ers vowed Mon­day to re­main at the makeshift camps on fed­eral land, point­ing out that En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners is still de­ter­mined to com­plete the project even though the U.S. Army Corps of Engi­neers on Sun­day de­nied a pre­vi­ously is­sued ease­ment.

“This is a vic­tory for or­ga­niz­ing, and it doesn’t stop now. We are ask­ing our sup­port­ers to keep up the pres­sure, be­cause while Pres­i­dent Obama has granted us a vic­tory to­day, that vic­tory isn’t guar­an­teed in the next ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said Dal­las Gold­tooth, spokesman for the Indigenous En­vi­ron­men­tal Net­work.

About 1,000 ac­tivists gath­ered Mon­day at the Back­wa­ter Bridge on High­way 1806, brav­ing a win­ter storm that brought blow­ing snow and sub­freez­ing tem­per­a­tures to the protest near Can­non Ball, North Dakota.

“More threats are likely in the year to come, and we can­not stop un­til this pipe­line is com­pletely and ut­terly de­feated, and our wa­ter and cli­mate are safe,” Mr. Gold­tooth said.

The de­ci­sion to re­main comes in de­fi­ance of Chair­man Dave Ar­cham­bault II’s call for the demon­stra­tors to leave the camps. He pre­vi­ously has de­cried the en­vi­ron­men­tal dam­age from thou­sands of campers as they burn trash, dig pits for garbage and waste, and scare away wildlife.

“I’m ask­ing them to go,” Mr. Ar­cham­bault told Reuters news agency. “Their pres­ence will only cause the en­vi­ron­ment to be un­safe.”

He noted that the state’s harsh weather makes con­struc­tion un­likely for the next few months, and that he plans to speak in the mean­time to Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

“Noth­ing will hap­pen this win­ter,” Mr. Ar­cham­bault said.

This isn’t the first time pro­test­ers have ig­nored the tribe. For months, Mr. Ar­cham­bault and tribal el­ders have urged ac­tivists to re­main “peace­ful and prayer­ful,” only to watch a vi­o­lent fac­tion set fires, dam­age con­struc­tion equip­ment, and throw rocks, fe­ces and Molo­tov cock­tails at po­lice.

The tribal coun­cil voted Nov. 1 to ask for the de­par­ture of the Red War­rior Camp, seen as the most dan­ger­ous of the camps, but its mem­bers have stayed put while con­tin­u­ing to raise money on­line.

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux’s mis­sion also has been largely sup­planted by that of the “leave it in the ground” move­ment, which seeks to stop fos­sil fuel ex­trac­tion.

The tribe praised Sun­day the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s de­ci­sion to ex­plore al­ter­na­tive routes for the pipe­line, which runs about a half-mile from the reser­va­tion, over con­cerns about wa­ter qual­ity and his­toric relics.

But en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists want to stop al­to­gether the $3.8 bil­lion project, which is more than 90 per­cent com­plete.

“I was asked, ‘When do you con­sider this pipe­line is­sue to be over?’ I said, ‘When ev­ery pipe is out of the ground and the earth is re­paired across the United States,’ ” LaDonna Al­lard, Sa­cred Stone Camp di­rec­tor, said Mon­day in a state­ment. “I am not ne­go­ti­at­ing, I am not back­ing down. I must stand for our grand­chil­dren and for the wa­ter.”

Those con­cerned that the de­ci­sion to pull the ease­ment will only to last as long as Pres­i­dent Obama re­mains in of­fice have rea­son to worry.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Demo­crat, said Mon­day the project would pro­ceed af­ter Mr. Trump is in­au­gu­rated Jan. 20, say­ing the le­gal fight against the pipe­line is “not winnable.”

The 1,172-mile, four-state pipe­line, whose route lies al­most en­tirely on pri­vate land, only needs fed­eral ap­proval for a 1,100-foot stretch along the Mis­souri River at Lake Oahe. The Army Corps is­sued the per­mit in July be­fore pulling it in re­sponse to the protest.

“When you look at it, we know one thing for sure, that when the ad­min­is­tra­tion changes, the ease­ment is go­ing to be ap­proved,” Ms. Heitkamp told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “I think Pres­i­den­t­elect Trump said that.”

A mod­er­ate Demo­crat, Ms. Heitkamp is be­ing con­sid­ered for a po­si­tion as in­te­rior sec­re­tary or en­ergy sec­re­tary in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

James Lo­gan, a North­ern Ara­paho Na­tive Amer­i­can from Wy­oming and pipe­line protester, warms him­self by a fire. Ac­tivists have vowed to stay in the camps, even af­ter the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion blocked the pipe­line, and the chair­man of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe has asked non-na­tive pro­tes­tors to leave.

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