Protesters rally against pipeline and its catastrophic potential

Hundreds gathered to rally support from the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday, August 31. Demonstrators pushed the Minneapolis City Council to stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which would run from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota, along the Minnesota/Iowa border, to Patoka, Illinois, which is around 1200 miles.

Across the country, cities including St. Paul are standing with protesters who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. “They wanted to originally run the pipeline through Bismark,” said Kathy Hollander with MN 350. “But because it posed such a hazard to the people of a leak happening, they decided to go through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation instead.”

MN 350 is a nonprofit whose mission is to “inspire Minnesotans to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis,” according to their website. On rerouting the pipeline through the reservation, Hollander said, “it’s criminal to do so.”

This writer went down to Standing Rock a few weeks ago to learn about what was going on. What the people made clear was that if the pipeline runs underneath the Missouri River and it leaks, it would be catastrophic to the people of Standing Rock and to many of the cities south of the reservation. They want to do everything they can to protect their way of life. For over two years the people of Standing Rock have been trying to prevent the pipeline from going through their land.

Tribes from across the country have sent people to stand against the pipeline, and currently around 4,000 people are at the camp near Cannonball, North Dakota. One of the protesters who didn’t want to be named said, “They promised to feed us, provide education, and give our people a place to live in exchange for land. Me and my wife live in a home where 15 people share a two-bedroom house.

“We need to [be able to] provide our own food, pay the electric bill,” continued the protester. “And our education is bad. They [the government] violated that treaty among others they signed, and now the oil company wants to put a pipeline through our land.”

Currently they have asked a federal judge for an injunction. The judge will be ruling on whether or not the pipeline construction can continue, considering how a leak would affect their land. A ruling is expected by September 9.

Update: On Friday, September 9, federal authorities voted to temporarily halt construction of the oil pipeline.

Chris Juhn welcomes readers’ responses to