Monday, December 05, 2016

Standing Rock Demonstrators Are Victorious (For Now)

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday, I reported that Donald Trump was supporting the Dakota Access pipeline, and that North Dakota's governor was ordering all the demonstrators to disperse or be removed this week. Things looked dark for the thousands of Native Americans who had gathered at Standing Rock to protect their sacred ground and their water (and for the thousands of friends who had joined them, including 2,000 U.S. veterans). It was looking like a showdown was looming with the 76 law enforcement agencies at the site.

All of that has now changed. On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers notified the demonstrators that no easement would be granted to the Dakota Access pipeline to pass through or near the Standing Rock reservation. They said they would be studying other routes for that pipeline.

The demonstrators are celebrating, and they should. Without help from the media, the courts, or the government, they stood their ground for months against the greed of Big Oil -- and they won. It's not only a victory for Native American rights, but for the free speech rights of all Americans.

We can only hope that this victory is final. The Big Oil interests might go to court to overturn the Army Corps decision -- or they may just wait for Trump to be sworn in and let him overturn it. The CEO of the company building the pipeline has said he is "100 percent sure that the pipeline will be approved by a Trump administration" regardless of what the Army Corps decides. And that might be true (since Trump has a financial interest in Phillips 66, and that company would benefit from the pipeline completion).

A great victory has been achieved at Standing Rock, but I fear the fight is not yet over.

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