Editor’s Note: When it comes to water and the environment, we’re all in. We have to be. It goes far beyond politics. It’s life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good week for either. Once again, we called our political consultant in SF, Heleanor S. Thompson to get some clarity on why anyone would want to put an oil pipe through someone’s drinking water. Turns out it might be even worse than that though. Just remember, knowledge is power, pay attention and learn more for yourself, there’s a lot of people out there hoping you don’t. At least prove them wrong and learn. —Travis
Right now far too many American’s access to clean water is contingent upon the fledgling mood of an aging reality TV star who parades around in his bathrobe after 6:30 PM, promptly. I have nothing against bathrobes, but something tells me that this overgrown toddler only cares about clean water as long as his golf courses are green.
And, of course, that his pockets continue to be lined with green paper. Which is why it makes so much sense that President Donald Trump would want the North Dakota Access Pipeline completed and pumping, pronto: until December, he had a an estimated million dollar stake in the company constructing the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.
Which brings me to Standing Rock, a microcosm of how water wars of the future will transpire. Apparently, several showdowns between thousands of activists and a militarized police force composed of officers from 10 different states isn’t concerning. At least if you ask the president who claimed his expedition of the DAPL’s completion “wasn’t controversial.”
We know by now that the president doesn’t have a firm grasp on reality insofar as it’s presented by a digest of cable news, but for those of us who can see (and have Instagram): the North Dakota Access Pipeline is quite controversial.
When the Army Corps of Engineers routed the DAPL to pass through land which threatens the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation’s water supply in July, activists from across the country descended on their native land in North Dakota. It wasn’t just activists: members of over 280 tribes and at one point 2,000 veterans camped out, vowing to protect their water despite hellish winter conditions. For the first time since the Battle of Little Big Horn 140 years ago, the seven council fires of the Sioux convened at Standing Rock to defend the tribe’s water.
The 1,172 mile project, which carries oil from the Bakken reserves in North Dakota across four states, has to cross a water source. More specifically, it has to cross the Missouri River. It was originally routed through Bismark, now it will be built on land that is technically federally owned, but land that eclipses the Sioux’s and crosses Lake Oahe — the tribe’s primary water source. Construction also damages a sacred burial ground, which is technically a violation of reservation treaties and simply adds insult to injury.
The Sioux’s concern is absolutely warranted. North Dakota averages about four pipeline spills a year. ETP has reported 29 spills since 2006, which is about 9,555 barrels of toxic sludge.
During the months that followed the Army Corps’ initial decision to proceed, “water protectors” or “young warriors” as they were dubbed by Native American elders, consistently clashed with a bored police force hellbent on provoking protesters so they could spray their water cannon — which they did anyways, repeatedly, in subzero temperatures. 700 people were arrested, some were literally put in cages with arrest numbers scrawled on their arms. Sound familiar?
President Obama tried to prevent the pipeline from contaminating the Sioux’s water supply in October by ordering the Army Corps to explore other routes, but the last ditch effort was obviously and inevitably going to be overturned when the Orange Oligarch took office. And it was. At the end of February, following Trump’s order to complete the project, police began evicting the remaining activists from the land. We may have lost the battle at Standing Rock, but this is only the beginning.
While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, it’s necessary knowledge. Justin Trudeau, the prom king of world leaders, is not nearly the environmentalist we envision him to be. He’s another head of state expanding the extraction of natural resources. Trudeau is also a proponent of the Keystone Pipeline, which Trump just approved after Obama attempted to kill the project.
Even if the president is truly divested from ETP as he claimed without providing proof, too many of his crony cabinet members are in bed with energy companies. The new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, chaired Exxon for a decade before joining this ridiculously corrupt administration. And Trump still might be invested in Exxon and Phillips 66 (which owns a 25 percent stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline).
Rick Perry, Department of Energy Secretary, sat on the fucking board of Energy Transfer Partners until a few days before accepting Trump’s nomination. We’re getting Dick Chenney’ed by a guy whose political career was so tanked he appeared on Dancing With the Stars and was also voted off second. Sad!
Last but in no way least of these oilsucking overlords is our new chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, which might as well be renamed the Environmental Exploitation Agency: Scott Pruitt. As Attorney General of Oklahoma, Pruitt used to hold clandestine meetings with energy companies CEO’s to strategize dismantling the “EPA’s activist agenda.” Pruitt sued the EPA 14 times for his fracking friends during his tenure and now he’s running the whole damn shindig.
And if you can possibly believe it: Pruitt is also a climate change denier. This is not just unfortunate, this is a real fucking travesty and it’s up to us — who have to live here after these narrow-minded politicians finally croak — to protect what little conserved land remains once Pruitt is done selling off previously protected land to his pals for “exploration.”
Flint, Michigan, by the way, hasn’t had access to clean water in over 1,000 days. The Bronx public school system just shut off some campus water fountains because they discovered high concentrations of lead in the water. Most staggering of all: 41 states reported higher than acceptable thresholds of lead in the drinking water since 2014.
This is a pretty bleak picture, I realize, and I don’t have many solutions. We obviously cannot rely on bottled water, nor can we let these vultures win. But you can start by, I know you’ve heard this before, calling your representatives. Demand that they investigate the water pipes in your city because you might have clean water now — but one day we could all be living like Flint’s citizens.
Finally, ask them why they are so fucking committed to eradicating Earth and why they keep accepting money from the corporations who are ensuring that their grandchildren won’t be able to drink water without dropping a dose of iodine in it first. Not that iodine could purify water that might be flammable when it comes out of the tap. —Heleanor S. Thompson