A small win for environmental justice



Just last week, it was announced that the Dakota Access Pipeline will not be granted a permit to drill under the Missouri River to build a pipeline that would transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. This announcement came after 10 months of peaceful protesting at the Sacred Stone Camp which was organized by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and saw a coalition with dozens of other tribes. The numbers at the Sacred Stone Camp swelled to over 1000 people at times.

The proposed construction of the pipeline was a half mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation after being rerouted from the original planned construction site which was deemed as potentially dangerous due to the risk of polluting Bismark’s water source. This announcement comes as a victory to the protesters who feared the environmental and cultural damage the pipeline could cause. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe claimed that the pipeline would destroy sacred sites and could cause irreversible environmental damage.

While the project has been halted, the Energy Transfer Partners could still file to appeal the decision. The president-elect Trump has also showed support for the project and could overturn the decision once he is sworn into office. While many protesters celebrated and saw the halting of the project as a victory, many are weary with distrust.

This protest has been a battle about enclosures, commons, boundaries, and social labor. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is facing enclosures as they are being alienated from the decision making of their land and resources. They claim to not have been consulted about the plans to build the pipeline only a half mile from the border of their reservation. The pipeline would distance the tribe from many cultural sites that would be destroyed during construction. The pipeline could also lead the tribe to be alienated from their water source as the pipeline has great potential to pollute the local water supply. The value for water as a life giving common is reflected in the slogan that is widely used in the protest, “Water is Life”. It is a common that cannot be denied to a single person.

The boundary of the reservation is being threatened by the pipeline as it is being constructed only a half mile from the border. The boundary of the reservation is based on the value that water is life and the value of inclusion. This common value was the catalyst for other tribes to come together in a formation of social labor. Even tribes whose resources are not directly being threatened joined the protests as they fought for the boundary of indigenous rights.

The battle over the construction of the DAPL has been won but the war between environmental justice and corporate greed is still rages on. 


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