The fight for the protection of Indigenous rights and environmental preservation at the Dakota Access Pipeline resulted in a monumental victory for water advocates and Indigenous people alike.
Thanks to the powerful display of unity, the Obama administration and the Army Corps of Engineers denied Dakota Access Pipeline builder, Energy Transfer Partners, the final permit it needed to complete construction of the pipeline. This means the Army Corps of Engineers will need to conduct a full environmental impact statement, which could take months to complete. During this time, there is to be no construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This is a huge step in the fight to fully stop the construction of the pipeline for good. A fight that has proven that peaceful, non-violent protesting can help protect our environment and issues we deeply care about.
However, the win at the Dakota Access Pipeline this past week does not mark the end of the fight for environmental protection in general. With Trump as president-elect, there have been some questionable choices for leadership positions. Among the most notable is climate change denier Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. If convincing the Obama administration to help put a stop to the Dakota Access Pipeline was challenging, convincing Trump’s administration is going to prove to be much more difficult.
If we want to protect our most valuable resource, water, and the other beautiful features that nature provides us with, we need to learn from what was done at Standing Rock, North Dakota. The bold actions of water protectors has given us solace in a future that needs protection more than ever before. Here is how we can continue to fight for water protection:
The Powerful Force Of Peaceful Advocacy - The Standing Rock Sioux tribe made it clear that they are a peaceful people and their tribe council is committed to nonviolence. The non-violent stance was an excellent way of bringing positive attention to a pressing issue. Many movements are vulnerable to violence and therefore ruin the message the advocates are trying to express.
In the case of Standing Rock, it was law enforcement that gave into aggression and violence through methods such as hitting advocates with fire hoses. The peaceful methods of the Sioux Tribe and their supporters were so encouraging that people from all over the country were showing up to show support. Supporters included celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodley and more.
Spreading The Word Of Climate Change Awareness - The issue of climate change is subject to a much heated debate especially in Washington DC. Despite loads of scientific reports and evidence, the Trump administration has vowed to ignore the effects of climate change and even reverse ongoing efforts such as the Paris Climate Agreement. Ignoring the damage to the environment and the humans that depend on it to live is something the Sioux tribe and water advocates fought hard to protect. Now it has been proven that our voices can resonate throughout the nation and the world. Now is the time to maintain that momentum.
The Power Of Individual Action - Via Social Media Is Powerful - Social media has given us a very unique ability to communicate with the masses. Standing Rock demonstrated through mediums such as twitter and instagram that even an individual's voice can be heard. It is the best way to connect with other people that can’t be present and gain presence through a unified voice.
However, one doesn’t need to be at Standing Rock to help out. Spreading awareness on the issue and peacefully expressing your opinions to companies that back projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline is a way to make your voice heard. Many people, for example, cancelled accounts and stood outside of Citibank locations due to their backing of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Shining A Light On Other Threats To The Environment - The lessons learned at Standing Rock can be used to strengthen the fight in other locations. The Dakota Access Pipeline may the latest issue and a huge win in the battle for environmental protection, however it is only of many. A few days ago, The Belle Fourche pipeline in North Dakota experienced a leak that caused 4,200 barrels of crude oil to spill (more than 176,000 gallons) before it was shut down. Other big spills in the past include the Kalamazoo spill in Michigan in 2010 and the Yellowstone River spill in Montana in 2015.
The fight for our environment and protection of water is far from over. The win at the Dakota Access Pipeline proves that by continuing to raise awareness of issues and peacefully expressing our opposition to oil pipelines and other potentially disastrous projects, we as water protectors, can make our voices heard.
Comments will be approved before showing up.