“Please, please, please be confident” in Dakota Access Pipeline, company leader says

By C.S. Hagen 
ALL NATIONS CAMP – While Arctic winds and near-record snows pummel the prairies, all is not quiet on the pipeline front.

The camp that drew tens of thousands of supporters from across the world, Oceti Sakowin, or the Seven Council Fires Camp, has been shut down. The sacred fire lit continuously since July has been extinguished, but a new fire has taken its place. The former camp is now known as All Nations Camp, according to attorney Chase Iron Eyes. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II has asked everyone to leave, but more than a thousand remain, both at All Nations Camp and at the Sacred Stone Camp.

Across Cannonball River at the Sacred Stone Camp, owner of the land LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard said she plans to stay.

LaDonna Tamakawastewin Allard and her husband Miles Allard

“We want the world to know that we at sacred stone are still standing,” Allard said. “We will still be here, we still have our sacred fire, it is still burning, and we want the world to know that we stand in prayer… we stand with Chase Iron Eyes and the new All Nations Camp, and we will be here until the black snake is dead.”

She calls for help to survive the bitter Dakota winter ahead. Firewood is needed, as are plumbers, electricians, welders, and carpenters to make Sacred Stone Camp a more permanent community, she said.

“The camp is strong,” Iron Eyes said. “One fire has been put out, a new fire has been relit. No more glory here, only hard work.”

There is no one chief, Iron Eyes said, everyone is working during daylight hours to help each other survive the winter.

Chase Iron Eyes

“Some people have left camp because of the deadly weather,” Iron Eyes said. “More have arrived… I can’t abandon those in need. Some of you won’t leave, and the world is blessed with your courage. It’s our job to help you stay warm, lodged and fed. Trump takes office in 41 days. DAPL will die if we keep the fight and shift the battlefield…”


Oil spills and a second “black snake”

Approximately 200 miles from Standing Rock, another pipeline leak on December 5 sent 4,200 barrels of oil into the Billings County Ash Coulee Creek, which drains into the Little Missouri River, and then into the Missouri River, the North Dakota Department of Health reported. Belle Fourche Pipeline Company manages the pipeline, and it has had a total of 14 leaks in their history in North Dakota.

The sacred fire at Oceti Sakowin before it was extinguished – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Any time we have oil released into water we view that as significant, we’re taking it seriously,” Spill Investigation Program Manager Bill Seuss said. The cold weather has its drawbacks and benefits, he said. Ice slows mobility, but has also trapped much of the oil on top of the creek. “The freezing river slows things down,” Seuss said.

While Standing Rock restructures, activists shut down a meeting held by Enbridge, Inc. at the Doubletree in Bemidji, Minnesota. Bemidji Police Department arrived and threatened nearly 150 people present to leave. Enbridge personnel expected a questions and answer session, but activists suspect they changed their “game plan” after too many activists arrived and started asking questions.

Oil spill at Ash Coulee Creek – photo provided by ND Department of Health

“It was not a forum, it was standing room only, like a buffet,” Winona Laduke, a longtime environmentalist, economist, and two-time vice presidential candidate for Ralph Nader’s Green Party, said. She is also the executive director for Honor the Earth, a non-profit advocate for indigenous environmental support.

“They whited out the Sandpiper and put in Line 3,” Laduke said. “They’re in the process of doing their environmental impact statement, and the public utilities is doing the statement and they don’t have the capacity for it.”

Laduke asked questions directly to Enbridge personnel. She was ignored, and they walked out, she said. “They thought there would be a few county commissioners and a few white guys, and they wouldn’t answer any questions. A lot of people wanted to know about North Dakota.

“If you’re going to bring tanks here into northern Minnesota,” Laduke said during the meeting. She was met with silence. “You’re going to bring tanks? That’s what we want to know.”

A police officer told her it was time to go. Friends grabbed her arms in support, making it clear they were not going anywhere, Laduke said. Activists yelled at police they should go apply to Morton County.

“As soon as Winona Laduke started asking questions a police officer came in and said she needed to leave for no reason at all,” activist Thomas Barrett. “Because of that, people started getting upset because they’re targeting Winona Laduke. She’s one of the women who has ignited the fire that is in us now, the fire to care for Mother Earth. We demanded to know something and the majority of the Enbridge walked out, because we started asking questions they don’t want to answer,” Barrett said.

Barrett planned to ask questions about abandoned pipelines, still leaking.

The Enbridge pipeline, formerly known as the Sandpiper was routed to cut through Chippewa and Ojibwe treaty territory.

“Now Enbridge is turning its focus on the proposed Line 3 project, which would carry tar sands oil from Alberta to Superior Wisconsin, some of the best lakes and wild rice beds of Northern Minnesota, and the heart of Ojibwe treaty territory,” Laduke said.

“As Enbridge kicks off a renewed public relations campaign for Line 3, they owe us all an explanation of how this project is any different from Dakota Access. And they need to account for the hundreds of injuries…”

Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley said before Fargo’s City Commissioners and Mayor Tim Mahoney last week that no injuries at Standing Rock had been validated.

“So, what’s up Enbridge?” Laduke said. “Are you going to bring those tanks to Ojibwe territory now? And, when are you going to repair the damage you have caused us?”

“We have to stay ahead of the game,” Barrett said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We have to get our legal ready. We have to support our frontrunners. This is where we mobilize. This is where we continue the fight. Standing Rock is not over, this is now Standing Rock right here.”

“Enbridge’s Line 3 Opening Party in Bemidji did not go well,” Laduke said. “We want to know why Enbridge let all those people get hurt out there in North Dakota when we asked them to stop the violence… They were one-third owners of the Dakota Excess Pipeline and they could have said something. This is not Morton County… that ain’t gonna fly here.”

“This isn’t North Dakota, this is Minnesota where the government might care a little bit about our concerns,” Barrett said to the crowd. News of an Enbridge meeting scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Clearwater was announced to the activists present.

DAPL drill pad – photo provided by Digital Smoke Signals

Energy Transfer Partners meeting secretly taped

A secret recording of a corporate Energy Transfer Partners meeting led by President and COO Matthew Ramsey was given anonymously to Shaun King, the senior justice writer for the New York Daily News, who made the audio public, and he states the recording is authentic. A person at the end of the speech thanks the main speaker, naming him Matt.

“We have been in quite a fight here on DAPL…” Ramsey said in the recording. “Make no mistake about it, the pipeline is going through and it’s going through exactly where…” The audio is interrupted.

“We have not stopped for one second on construction of this pipeline, unless we were ordered to stop by court, which we were then ordered to stop twice but ultimately both of those courts that did order us to stop went and looked at the facts, which are very hard to come by in this process.” 

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been built on both sides of Lake Oahe up to the point where Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of the Dakota Access Pipeline, lacks approximately 1,100 feet from the federal government, and about 4,000 feet planned to go under the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.

“The politics of this thing has been unbelievable,” Ramsey said. “Never in my lifetime…” The audio is interrupted. “I think I would be having an argument with regulators where we’ve done nothing except play by the rules. We always, always play by the rules. It was evidenced that when we came under attack here, there was never anything, not one thing that came out…” audio is interrupted again. “It was a confirmation that we did it by the book.

“But I gotta tell you one thing in this room, election night changed everything,” Ramsey said. “We’re now going through a transition where we will have a new President of the United States. And he gets it. We fully expect as soon as he is inaugurated his team is going to move to get the final approvals done and DAPL will cross the lake.”

A 65-day drilling schedule remains to complete the 1,172-mile pipeline, depending on the weather.

“People in North Dakota… people are tired of this. The tide has turned, and people are understanding what a great project this will be for the state of North Dakota, and that came right out of the governor’s mouthpiece that he’s very much in favor of this thing, so, I think we’re off and running on DAPL.”

The pipeline plans to move up to 570,000 of sweet crude Bakken oil through a public utility. Much of the oil will be exported, according to analysts, and will not benefit American consumers. North Dakota politicians including Senator Heidi Heitkamp D-N.D., helped lead efforts to legalize increased exports of liquefied gas and crude oil in 2015.

“I know everyone in this room has had to deal with protesters, and everyone in this room has had to read on social media the misinformation that’s out there,” Ramsey said. “It’s not fair. We feel like keeping our head down and doing what we do best, which is put this pipeline in the ground is the best thing we can do. We’ve never stopped doing that.”

Ramsey attacked live video feeds on social media websites such as Facebook as rumor mills. Earlier this week Governor Jack Dalrymple blamed Energy Transfer Partners for not standing up for themselves and defending their positions.

“Why don’t we just immediately answer back every time something is stated wrong about the company and what we’re doing?” Ramsey said. “You have to understand, and I didn’t understand this until I got kinda deep into it, this is not really about water and this is not about… it’s about environmental activism, and it’s nothing more than that. These are people who are pushing the all-fossil fuels in the ground at every angle. Make no mistake, this is an event that they’re using to raise lots and lots of money. If they can create a cause and if they can create a lot of publicity, which they’ve clearly done here, it’s an avenue for that to raise money, not only to fight us on this project, but to fight all the projects.

“So we’ll continue to fight for this thing, but please, please, please be confident in this company. We’re gonna get this through in short order.”

Route 6 – photo provided by Digital Smoke Signals