by Jan Lee on Monday, Feb 13th, 2017
dent Donald Trump’s Jan. 24 memo to the Secretary of the Army signaling the go-ahead for the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines was great news for the project’s developers, Energy Transfer Partners and Trans Canada. The memorandum, like Trump’s surprise election, signaled new confidence in a declining market that is still fighting to prove its mastered environmental liabilities.
But the memo did something else, as well, something that proponents of troubled projects like DAPL and Keystone XL had a problem surpassing in past decades: It suggested a route for approval that bypassed the rigorous environmental assessment and vetting processes that are usually expected in infrastructure projects.
It did so by suggesting that oil and gas developments and their potential impact upon communities that have already been victim to oil spill controversies could be “review[ed] and approv[ed]” efficiently in what Trump calls an “expedited manner.”
This past week, the snowy fields of North Dakota became the staging grounds to a growing contingent of Native American tribes and environmental organizations (such as Earth Justice, which is assisting with legal defense), as well as U.S. veterans and other supporters determined to protest the president’s decision.
For many, their protest isn’t just a defense for clean drinking water, but for constitutional rights. Veterans who made their way to the camp this week said they weren’t there to incite or take part in violence. They came to lend recognition to human rights.
“We are prepared to put our bodies between Native elders and a privatized military force,” Air Force veteran Elizabeth Williams told the Guardian Newspaper.