Earlier this year, President Obama put an end to plans to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. Although careful planning ensured the pipeline did not interfere with native lands, protesters forced the administration to cave to pressure to cancel the project.
That all changed when President Trump entered the Oval Office. Shortly after inauguration, Trump issued an executive order that resumed plans to build the pipeline. That hasn’t stopped protesters, who have refused to evacuate the site. However, despite claiming to be protecting the environment, protesters have actually caused an environmental emergency at the site. As warmer weather looms, trash and debris threaten to leak into the very river the protesters claim to protect.
With time running short, the governor of North Dakota was forced to act.
From the Daily Caller:
North Dakota’s Republican governor issued an order Wednesday night mandating that all those occupying campsites along the Dakota Access Pipeline evacuate the area immediately.
Gov. Doug Burgum issued the order to accelerate cleanup efforts to avoid a possible ecological disaster from the 4.5 million pounds of garbage protesters have left behind. Unseasonably warm temperatures, the note states, prompted the need for protesters to evacuate the flood-plain areas in Morton and Sioux counties by no later than Feb. 22.And it’s not just the government begging protesters to leave. In a shocking twist of irony, even the Standing Rock Sioux have also asked the protesters to vacate the area:
Standing Rock Sioux, one of the tribes opposing the multi-state project, believes the multi-billion project could poison the Missouri River and trample tribal grounds. Cultural surveys conducted last year by the Army Corps of Engineers, however, show the pipeline avoided tribal lands.The tribe ordered occupiers to leave the area after the Obama administration rejected the nearly-2,000-mile long pipeline in December.
Sadly, the protesters have chosen to defy the tribe and the government, and their actions at the site belie their message. With warmer than usual weather, time is running out for crews to finish their work.
So far, protesters have showed a complete disregard for the instructions they have been given. Whether or not the governor’s emergency order will change remains to be seen. However, if protesters really want to protect the environment and the tribe, they should get out of the way and allow crews to finish their work before it’s too late.
[Note: This post was written by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]