The North Dakota Access Pipeline and How Big Oil Used Law Enforcement to Impose it’s Will
Every once in a great while we come upon a story harboring so many issues, its impossible to prioritize all the angles hidden within. But since a tale like America’s Native Peoples standing up against the forces of Big Oil to prevent the desecration of sacred burial grounds and contamination of their land and waters began to resemble a battle between David against Goliath, our angle became clear. In our view, the sharpest and most dangerous angle in this story, is how big business uses law enforcement to impose its will on “We the People”. If you’ve got a minute, we’ll explain.
The tales of massacres, theft of land and breaking of treaties are as old to America’s native peoples, as they are to any one who’s had the misfortune of having their spaces and natural resources discovered by rich and powerful forces seeking conquest and eventual control of the world. And while American historians have written glowingly about the resourcefulness of the industrious American, far less is written or fully understood about the ruthlessness of those industrious Americans.
Fortunately, history repeats itself, so you if pay close attention, you might get a glimpse how the rich and powerful became rich and powerful and how they’ll maintain their riches and power in the future. When America’s Native Peoples of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota began their protest months ago, they were alone. So, the rich and powerful, aka Big Oil’s, first step was to use its influence with local and state officials to deal with these “obstacles to profits” as quickly, quietly and efficiently as possible. To allow a $3.8 billion dollar project to be held up by a bunch of “Redskins” was a ridiculous notion. “Do what you’re paid to do” state and local official were told. And they did.
Initially, state and local officials decided to let the “Redskins” scream and a holler awhile, arrest a few hard-liners and hope the rest would accept the futility of their actions, get tired and eventually go home. But America’s Native Peoples didn’t get tired of screaming and hollering, they didn’t get tired of being arrested and they get tired didn’t go home. These people stayed because this land IS their home and there IS no place else for them to go. But the rich and powerful have been overcoming “obstacles to profits” like this for centuries. So, that’s when they released the dogs.
Big Oil’s next step was to turn up the pressure on America’s Native Peoples. The powers that be simply demanded a tougher response from one of the governments they own. Law enforcement was given its marching orders to remove these people by any means necessary. Did local law enforcement authorities receive direct a call from billionaire Kelcy Warren, CEO and founder of Energy Transfer Partners, the company trying to build the Dakota Pipeline? Hell no. Its never that simple. But you can bet your bottom dollar, they got the message. When it came to the use of force, the gloves came off.because it wasn’t long before reports of tear gas, pepper spray and K-9 units were being deployed against the unarmed protestors.
For everyday the Dakota Access Pipeline project’s completion is delayed, millions are lost. If the project has to be completely rerouted, hundreds of millions would be added to the cost. But America’s Native Peoples remained resolute. They dug themselves in. They constructed camps. They got they’re story out. And when others heard of Dakota Access Pipeline fight, the Native Peoples were no longer alone. Climate activists and environmentalists joined their plight. But if you think a few tree hugging activist and a bunch of “Redskins” was gonna stop Big Oil, you don’t know the rich and powerful you don’t know your history very well.
As the temperatures dropped below freezing, protestors and activists were intentionally and liberally drenched with water canons by authorities to make conditions as difficult for them to continue as possible. Authorities then threatened to stave them out by refusing to allow access to food and water and planned to fine anyone who tried bring them any. Instances of excessive force became so prevalent, veterans from around the country began arriving to serve as human shields between the protestors and the powerful forces Big Oil had “lawfully” marshaled against them.
The optics were horrible for the upcoming holidays and if President Obama didn’t step in to deny the pipeline builder the needed permit to continue operations, loss of life would’ve been a forgone conclusion. At the behest of the White House the U.S. Army of Engineers refused to allow the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota before tensions could escalate. The project was stopped dead in its tracks. America’s Native People won a victory. And we wish that was the end of this story. But this is America and in America, the rich and powerful simply don’t lose.
Bottom line: Although President Obama sent the Calvary to the rescue to save this day, tomorrow belongs to Big Oil’s rich and powerful. For they need only remain patient another few weeks and they’ll have one of their own in the White House to recall Barack Obama’s Calvary and release their law dogs again. Make no mistake about it, this fight ain’t over by a long shot. Podcast below