by Tim Shenk
Coordinator, Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations (CUSLAR)
Many people have been following the indigenous Water Protectors’ prayerful, nonviolent protests at the site of stalled oil pipeline construction in Standing Rock, North Dakota. The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), once finished, would transport oil nearly 1,200 miles from North Dakota oil fields to a distribution terminal in southern Illinois.
Water Protectors from the Standing Rock Sioux nation and many allies from around the world have been congregating in larger and larger numbers in the pipeline’s path since April. They have stressed the human and environmental disaster of building an oil pipeline across the Missouri River, where it could contaminate one of the Midwest’s largest water sources. The atmosphere has been tense, with hundreds of arrests. On the night of November 20, police turned a water cannon on people in freezing temperatures, injuring over 100.
Yet there may be victory in sight at Standing Rock. The Water Protectors may be able to delay the project long enough that it loses financial viability.
A report released last week highlighted the financial situation behind pipeline construction. Developers are a huge bind as current contracts with oil buyers expire January 1. If the pipeline is not fully functional by the first of the year, oil buyers and shippers will be allowed to renegotiate or decline unfavorable contracts that were signed in 2014 when oil prices were more than double what they are now.
Here is the concluding paragraph of the report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis:
“The rush to build the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline stems largely from the financial motivations of Energy Transfer Partners, motivations that do not necessarily coincide with the interests of Bakken oil drillers or with any economic rationale for increased regional pipeline capacity. The contracts for DAPL were signed in a radically different economic environment in which Bakken oil production was growing and drilling companies were doing well financially. The DAPL is a superfluous project being built to preserve the favorable contract terms that its developers negotiated in 2014.”
Now is a crucial time to support the camps of Water Protectors at Standing Rock who are bracing for intensifying police assaults and falling winter temperatures.
– Follow the Facebook feeds of the Sacred Stone Camp and others on the ground