Nov. 3, 2016

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UUP in solidarity with Standing Rock tribe in pipeline protest

uupdate 11-3-16

UUP is standing with Standing Rock.

UUP’s statewide Executive Board voted Oct. 28 to support the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in its opposition to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. As planned, construction of the 1,172-mile pipeline would threaten the area’s water supply and trample on Standing Rock cultural lands and tribal grounds.

“This is wrong,” UUP President Fred Kowal said in an Nov. 1 letter to Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock tribe. “UUP—which has long stood for the rights of the oppressed and is committed to defending our environment—will not remain silent on this issue.

“UUP expresses its solidarity to the leadership of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. We will support you as protesters prepare for a winter stand against the pipeline.”

UUP also sent a Nov. 1 letter to President Barack Obama about the union’s decision to support the tribe.

The protectors

The Standing Rock tribe and pipeline protesters contend that the pipeline would harm Standing Rock cultural lands and tribal grounds protected by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. They say the pipeline would endanger the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for 10 states and 28 tribes, including Standing Rock. The project, approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is designed to cross under part of the Missouri River less than a mile from the Standing Rock reservation.

According to a September report by Oil Change International, the pipeline would produce carbon emissions equal to 21.4 million cars, or 30 coal plants.

Pipeline protesters have been under siege by security forces, which have used military-grade weapons and tactics to push back protesters, who gathered peacefully to oppose the project. In late October, more than 140 protesters were arrested in an attempt to block construction of the pipeline, which is set to run from Patoka, Ill., to Stanley, N.D.

A consortium of companies, led by Energy Transfer Partners, LP, is behind the $3.8 billion project; the consortium claims the pipeline would be the fastest, most direct route to bring Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to Gulf Coast refineries.

The tribe has opposed the pipeline’s construction for months. In September, President Obama ordered a temporary halt to construction pending a review of the project after a federal judge rejected the tribe’s suit to halt the project.

Obama intervenes

This week, the president told the online news outlet NowThis that his administration was looking at possibly rerouting the pipeline.

“We’re monitoring this closely,” Obama said. “My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. “We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans.”

Kowal, who didn’t rule out UUP’s involvement in the North Dakota protests, applauded Obama’s involvement.

“I am confident that (president Obama) will act to ensure that all future decisions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline will begin and end with consultation with the leadership of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation,” he wrote in his Oct. 31 letter to Obama.

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