Standing Rock Casino Gives Shelter to Pipeline Protestors during a Blizzard
Protestors in the North Dakota pipeline standoff are taking shelter in a nearby casino as a blizzard rolls through the area. They are staying at the Standing Rock Sioux Casino as they ride out the winter storm.
Michelle Cook, a protestor from Tucson, Arizona, said of the blizzard, “Of course it’s difficult, but I think that this is the test that shows how strong we are and how determined we are to be here.”
The $3.4 Billion Dakota Access Pipeline
The Dakota Access Pipeline or Bakken pipeline is a 1,172-mile long pipeline running from Bakken, North Dakota (in the far northwest of the state) to Patoka, Illinois, a town of 584 which is located in the south-central portions of Illinois.
The Bakken Pipeline is being built by Energy Transfer Partners, a Fortune 500 natural gas and oil company which owns subsidiaries like Sunoco, Southern Union Company, and Dakota Access. Phillips 66, Marathon Petroleum, and Enbridge are minority investors in the $3.8 billion pipeline.
Missouri River Reservoir
The Bakken Pipeline is planned to cross under a Missouri River reservoir, which could lead to leakage of oil into the water supply. Much of the debate is on the likelihood of contamination, with the evaluation largely resting on the US Army Corps of Engineers’ study.
In March and April 2016, three government agencies — April 2016 the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation — asked the Corps of Engineers to look at the impact of the Bakken Pipeline.
Standing Rock Protests
Starting in August and September 2016, activists gathered in large groups near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota to protest the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline by the Canadian oil companies. The area was chosen after a group affiliated with the Standing Rock Sioux Indians, ReZpect Our Water, filed a easement in August 2016 with the US Army Corps of Engineers.
Over the months of the confrontation, the protestors have comprised a wide range of people. Some are Native Americans protesting the spoilage of their reservation. Others are those concerned with the environment and ecology of Earth, or liberal activists. Many others are concerned citizens from Florida to Alaska and Maine to California, who believe the cause is just.
US Army Veterans Join the Protest
Recently, 2000 US Army veterans showed up to stand with the protestors. The veterans appeared after news coverage showed the local law enforcement spraying protestors with water hoses on a freezing cold night.
North Dakota Blizzards
The blizzard, though, took the danger from the elements to a whole other level. Winters in Minnesota and North Dakota are comparable to the winter weather in Moscow, Russia, so the danger is great to the protesters.
Many of them remain in a winter camp in southern North Dakota. Others are staying in area shelters in communities near the Dakota Access pipeline during the blizzard.
Standing Rock Sioux Casino
The Standing Rock Sioux Casino decided to give shelter to the protestors they could. That came days after reports surfaced that the nearby Prairie Knights Casino had no rooms to rent after an anonymous donor offered $12,000 to house protestors at the establishment.
Prairie Rock Casino
Kevin Gilbrett posted on YouTube his insinuations as an example of “just how far people are willing to go to make this as uncomfortable as possible.”
The implication was that someone who opposed the protestors had rented all the rooms at the Prairie Rock Casino, which is owned by the Standing Rock Tribe. Later, Kevin Gilbrett took down his video, because he said some of the claims proved to be inaccurate. Gilbrett did not elaborate on which of his claims were inaccurate.
The Kevin Gilbrett YouTube post is an example of what makes it so hard to follow such stories in the media. Both sides in a dispute have parties who seek to tell the truth, even if they spin the facts to meet their side of the truth. Both sides in a story like the Bakken Pipeline standoffs also have people who step over the line, essentially becoming propagandists.
The resulting echo chamber of slanted information is sometimes effective. For example, some believe Energy Transfer Partners is still building the pipeline for Canadian oil interests, as if that would make a pipeline that contaminates watter supplies less legitimate. Such arguments can be counterproductive. As they used to say in college: the quickest way to lose an argument is to overstate your case.
Temporary Suspension of Construction
Last week, the US Army Corps of Engineers ordered a halt to construction of the Bakken Pipeline, which was hailed as a victory for the Standing Rock protestors. With a new administration about to take over the governance of the United States federal government in January 2016, it is unknown how long that victory might last.
With billions of dollars invested, Energy Transfer Partners are likely to lobby the new administration. With soon-to-be former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt tapped to be the new head of the EPA, Energy Transfer Partners are likely to find new allies in positions of influence. When winter thaws, the Standing Rock standoff is likely to enter a new phase.
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