“We know that elections and individuals alone don’t create change—movements do.”
This is the maxim that guided the massive nationwide action that took place Tuesday, with nearly 200 protests against the Dakota Access pipeline, the largest since the U.S. government halted the project in September.
The actions were called by Indigenous leaders in support of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and in an effort to urge the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. government to stop the pipeline, according to Dallas Goldtooth, a spokesperson for Indigenous Environmental Network, one of the organizers.
"The purpose is to elevate the issue and to encourage the Army Corps to exert its power to stop this pipeline," Goldtooth said of Tuesday's protests in which more than 30 groups, including Greenpeace and CREDO Action, are participating.
The Army Corps and Department of Interior on Monday delayed a decision on whether to grant an easement to Energy Transfer Partners, the main company behind the pipeline, for an easement to tunnel under Lake Oahe, the water source that is the focal point of protests.
Construction of the behemoth 1,172-mile pipeline is about 85 percent complete, Phillips 66, one of the pipeline's investors, said last week. The only outstanding construction work to be done in North Dakota is the segment of the line that would run under the lake, according to Energy Transfer.
The company last week said it was confident the Army Corps would grant the easement, allowing it to begin drilling under the lake about two weeks later.
As such, Tuesday's protests will be focused outside Army Corps offices throughout the country, and at major banks financing construction of the pipeline. Norwegian bank DNB had already said this month said it would reconsider financing the project if the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux were not addressed
While President-elect Donald Trump has not weighed in on Dakota Access specifically, he has continuously expressed strong support for the development of energy infrastructure projects, including oil pipelines.
Kelcy Warren, the top executive at Energy Transfer, donated more than US$100,000 to the Trump campaign.
“Indigenous leaders are calling on us to take to the streets and disrupt ‘business-as-usual’ one week after the election to demand that President Obama’s Army Corps of Engineers and the incoming administration stop the Dakota Access Pipeline,” says the memo for the Nov. 15 #NoDAPL Day of Action.
“The Army Corps fast-tracked the Dakota Access Pipeline without proper consultation, and as a result, bulldozers are approaching Standing Rock as we speak. But with coordinated, massive demonstrations across the country, we’ll make it clear that this powerful movement will not allow the sacrifice of Indigenous rights, our water, or our climate,” the statement added.