Early this week, some much-needed good news came out regarding the ongoing indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access oil pipeline project in North Dakota: the Obama administration denied a permit for the further construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River, near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. This was big – a crucial boost for the determined water protectors at Standing Rock and their many allies standing in solidarity throughout the country.
But since Sunday night’s announcement, some troubling developments have amplified the ongoing nature of the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline, and the urgent need for President Obama to cancel it once and for all before he leaves office.
Shortly after the administration’s stop-work order came down, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company building the pipeline, issued a statement that roundly dismissed the news, indicating that they “fully expected to complete the project… Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.” Some reports even suggest that ETP might be inclined to simply continue construction illegally and pay any fines it might incur as a result.
But perhaps more alarming for the prospects of stopping Dakota Access was Donald Trump’s appointment yesterday of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA. Simply put, Pruitt is an anti-science apologist for the fossil fuel industry, with a long history of attacks on the core mission of the very agency he has been pegged to lead. If confirmed by the Senate, Pruitt will do everything in his power – which is a lot – to encourage and enable the construction of fossil fuel infrastructure like the Dakota Access pipeline.
For these reasons and so many more, our last, best chance to stop the Dakota Access pipeline lies with President Obama, and time is running out. Temporarily halting construction on the project was good, but unless Obama cancels the project outright, this week’s development will amount to little more than a temporary reprieve.