Water protectors in North Dakota are launching the next phase of resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)—hurting its parent company's profits.
After securing a crucial victory earlier this year that halted construction on the 1,172-mile oil pipeline that opponents say threatens Indigenous rights and access to clean water, activists are now strategizing how to deplete Energy Transfer Partner's (ETP) financials before the incoming Trump administration can undo progress against the pipeline, the Guardian reported Thursday.
"We are preparing because we know we have a fight on our hands. We will be standing our ground no matter what," said LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a Standing Rock Sioux tribe member.
ETP pledged to investors to have DAPL operational by early 2017. In court documents filed in November, the company indicated it was "committed to complete, test, and have DAPL in service" by a January 1 deadline—which, if it failed to meet, meant shipping partners would be allowed to terminate their commitments.
Opponents hope stalling the project could hurt ETP's bottom line enough to cancel the pipeline's construction.
And experts seem to agree. Cathy Kunkel, energy analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, told the Guardian, "A couple of months delay for a project like this is significant."
Meanwhile, other activists are pushing for DAPL investors to withdraw their funds, which has led some of the pipeline's biggest supporters to cut off ties. Norway's largest bank, DNB, one of the project's biggest funders, sold off $3 million in DAPL assets in response to the divestment campaign. Reports of police violence against activists, which continued earlier this week as several people were arrested during a prayer circle, have also pushed supporters to step back from the project.
What's more, experts say, the drop in global oil prices along with the rise in renewable energy production means ETP might be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As Clark Williams-Derry, director of energy finance at the Sightline Institute, told the Guardian, "They've locked themselves into a long-term commitment in the midst of a steep and what appears now to be a sustained decline in oil production from the region. If I were a shipper, I would be very concerned."
Water protector Dallas Goldtooth, who has been instrumental in organizing the DAPL resistance, added that the energy industry is "trying to ram these projects into the ground as quickly as possible with no concern about the risk."
"I hope this sucker sinks Energy Transfer," he said.