Opponents of the Dakota Access Pipeline are celebrating the move by the Army Corps of Engineers to deny an easement for the oil pipeline to cross a reservoir on the Missouri River in North Dakota.
Jessica Reznicek of Des Moines had carried out a two-week long fast outside the Iowa Utilities Board building and called on the board to revoke permits for construction of the pipeline in Iowa. After the Corps’ announcement, Reznicek had a bowl of chicken soup, but promised to continue her efforts — including a Wednesday sit-in at the utilities board. “We’re planning on some folks refusing to leave and getting arrested in the process…that level of self-sacrifice is worth it to shut this down,” Reznicek said.
Kari Carney, with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition, spoke at a recent demonstration. “For far too long, big oil has acted like they are God and our elected officials and government agencies have kowtowed to them, and let them do whatever they want,” Carney said.
Aside from the small section in North Dakota that’s now on hold, the 1,172-mile pipeline is nearly completed. It runs through four states, including Iowa. Governor Terry Branstad is blasting the Obama administration’s decision to halt construction.
Branstad says construction workers are among the biggest backers of the project. “They are wearing caps that say ‘Make America Great Again.’ They voted for Trump, including the people who are building the fertilizer plants in southeast Iowa and northwest Iowa” Branstad said. “These people supported Donald Trump because they want a leader (who) is for jobs…and will make America energy independent. This (Obama) administration hasn’t learned the lesson.”
The pipeline was set to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation border in North Dakota. Tribal members have protested, saying a pipeline breach would threaten their drinking water.
Branstad claims President Obama is caving in to environmental activists like Tom Steyer. “I guess they’re more interested in the money people like Tom Steyer, who provides hundreds-of-millions of dollars to Democratic candidates,” Branstad said. “But, they lost this election. They lost this election because the working people are tired of a few elitist billionaires calling the shots.”
(Thanks to Sarah Boden, Iowa Public Radio, who contributed to this story)