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Indigenous and environmental activists are looking to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for a sign of where she stands on the controversial project. (Photo: Monica D. Spencer/flickr/cc)

With Dakota Access Back in Court, Activists Ask (Again): Where's Clinton?

Meanwhile, Greenpeace exposes Donald Trump's financial ties to pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners

Deirdre Fulton

As Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters head back to court on Wednesday, U.S. presidential candidates' positions on the project (or lack thereof) are being thrust into the spotlight.

The three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is being asked to keep in place a temporary halt to construction while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe appeals a lower-court ruling from September. The hearing was scheduled to begin at 9:30am Eastern, and Native News Online reports that it "may ultimately decide if the pipeline project moves forward."

"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will not back down from this fight," said Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II, who will speak in D.C. following the hearing. "We are guided by prayer, and we will continue to fight for our people. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline."

Meanwhile, Indigenous and environmental activists are looking to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for a sign of where she stands on the controversial project. Clinton has yet to state publicly whether or not she supports the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline—despite longstanding calls for her to do so.

"We definitely need Secretary Clinton to make a statement on it," Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb told The Hill on Wednesday. "We don't know where she stands, and we don't know where she stands on the general build-out of pipelines."

Though The Hill noted that Clinton's reticence may have to do with the labor movement's divided stance on this and other fossil fuel projects, May Boeve of 350 Action pointed out that she could reach other critical demographics by coming out strongly against DAPL.

"If Hillary Clinton takes a stand against it, she could demonstrate her climate leadership and fire up the young voters she's trying to reach," Boeve said.

Indeed, as co-founder Bill McKibben said last week on Democracy Now!: "She has so far refused to say anything about it. Let's hope that that changes, because this is not only a practical challenge, at this point it's a clear moral test."

While Clinton has been silent on the matter, Republican nominee Donald Trump's business dealings with DAPL speak for themselves.

According to a Greenpeace analysis published Tuesday, "Trump has deep financial and personnel ties to the pipeline."

Citing the real estate mogul's limited financial disclosures thus far, Trump has "between $500,000 and $1 million in investments in the primary builder of the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners," Greenpeace reported. "He also disclosed $50,000 to $100,000 in investments in Phillips 66, which would own one-quarter of the Dakota Access Pipeline once completed."

"What does it mean that Trump could personally profit off a project that tramples Indigenous rights and pushes us closer to climate disaster?" wrote Jesse Coleman, a researcher with the Greenpeace Investigations team. "For one thing—if Trump’s past investments are any guide—this project could well crash and burn, which would be a relief to the Standing Rock Sioux, the climate, and everyone in the path of this dangerous fossil fuel project."

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