You are here

North Dakota Governor supports Energy Giant against Native American protestors, cuts off water, steals toilets

Gerry Bello

The now under construction Bakken pipeline, also termed the North Dakota access pipeline, is slated to stretch from the Bakken shale fields of North Western North Dakota to a terminal in Illinois. The oil that will flow down the pipeline will eventually feed Southern and Eastern markets, specifically including Ohio. The oil will be blasted out of the ground via hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The Bakken pipeline crosses the Standing Rock Reservation, where Native activists have campaigned to halt it's construction, citing the project's inherent threat to their water supply, which is the Missouri River.

Their campaign began with a group of mostly teenagers running from the reservation in North Dakota all the way to Washington DC, where President Obama refused to meet with them. The President's only actual visit to a reservation was to Standing Rock, where he praised the industry of Native youth as economic hope for the future. The Bakken pipeline will only create 40 permanent jobs at a cost of $3.7 billion. None of those jobs will be given to Native population of North Dakota by the consortium that is building the pipeline.

12,000 temporary jobs will be created in construction and security with workers shipped to slam the pipeline through five states like a swarm of locusts. A Pennsylvania study showed a direct linkage between the influx of temporary petroleum workers in fracking areas and a 123% increase in violent crime, increased road fatalities and a doubling of the rate of sexual transmitted disease.

The leading partner in development group is Energy Transfer Partners, who own Sunoco as well as the Stripes+ chain of gas/station convince stores. The next largest partner is Marathon Oil, of Findlay Ohio who owns the Marathon and Speedway chains of gas stations and convenience stores. The third largest partner is Western Refining of St Paul Minnesota, which owns the SuperAmerica chain of gas stations.

While a hearing on an injunction filed by the Standing Rock Sioux is scheduled for today, August 24th, in Washington D.C. based on the treaties that created the reservation, the State Government of North Dakota has struck back against the Native Residents with a vengeance. A lower court has granted the State government a restraining order baring the Standing Rock Sioux from protesting on their own land. The handful of protestors has swelled in recent days to nearly 3,000 out of a total population of 8,970. Fully on third of thee tribe has mobilized to defend their water.

North Dakota department of homeland security director Greg Wiltz has gone further. After placing military checkpoints at all entrances to the reservation, he began ordering surveillance overflights of the prayer encampments.

Having induced the Governor to declare a state of emergency, Wiltz has now begun moves to break up the encampments, effectively confining residents to their homes for the duration of the construction. Water supplies are being confiscated in the blistering high plains heat . Moves are being made to take all the portable toilets that have been trucked to the protest encampments in the hopes of breaking the will of the tribe to resist the well financed invasion of their land.

Energy Transfer Partners seems confident that modern day invasion of Native land will be profitable. Their latest filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show their willingness to take on a large amount of debt through the sale of corporate bonds. On August 22nd, a day after the declaration of a state of emergency the company began issuing bonds with a minimum buy of $250,000. The bonds pay at money market rates.

The North Dakota department of homeland security is federally connected and would not be the first to act along with the FBI against the Free Speech activities of fossil fuel opponents. Although Clinton claims to have reversed her stance of fracking, she is likely to follow the current administration’s course of placing fracking opponents on watch lists, as the FBI has in Pennsylvania. There they worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Homeland Security to monitor people who attended documentary screenings of Gasland.

No direct ties have been found between Energy Transfer Partners and the campaign coffers of North Dakota politicians, but the fomrer has made substantial donations to Senator Portman (R-OH) who is currently running for re-election.