Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

It will take more than the stroke of Trump’s pen to quash the vigorous resistance to these two pipelines, or the growing global demand for urgent action to combat climate change. (Photo: Leslie Peterson/flickr/cc)

Standing Rock Sioux to Trump: ‘Creating a Second Flint Does Not Make America Great Again’

Amy GoodmanDenis Moynihan

No longer just tweeting, President Donald J. Trump has been issuing a stream of executive orders and memoranda since his inauguration. On Tuesday, his pronouncements involved the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Both projects were denied or delayed by the Obama administration, each after massive public protests. Now, with the Trump administration’s actions, buttressed by a servile Congress under Republican control, fossil-fuel megaprojects are getting the green light.

But it will take more than the stroke of Trump’s pen to quash the vigorous resistance to these two pipelines, or the growing global demand for urgent action to combat climate change.

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is the 1,100-mile long, $3.8 billion pipeline that would carry fracked oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois, where it would connect with another pipeline to carry the crude to the Gulf of Mexico.

Opponents of DAPL fear a pipeline rupture could poison the Missouri River, which provides fresh water for 17 million people. The center of opposition has been at protest camps on and around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where the pipeline is slated to cross the river.

The proposed Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline would carry the world’s filthiest fossil fuels, tar sand bitumen, from Alberta, Canada, across the border into the U.S., also down to the Gulf. On Nov. 6, 2015, after five years of protest against the KXL, President Barack Obama stated that it “would not serve the national interest of the United States,” effectively killing the project. On Dec. 5, 2016, in a second victory for grass-roots environmental activists, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied the easement for DAPL to tunnel underneath the Missouri River, stopping that pipeline.

“Trump’s executive order on DAPL violates the law and tribal treaties. We will be taking legal action,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman David Archambault II said in a press release after Trump’s actions. “Creating a second Flint does not make America great again.” Trump’s presidential memorandum on DAPL instructs the secretary of the Army to “review and approve in an expedited manner ... requests for approvals to construct and operate the DAPL.” The same language in the memo about the Keystone XL pipeline is addressed to the secretary of the Army, as well as to the secretary of state and the secretary of the interior. Trump’s secretary of state nominee, Rex Tillerson, was formerly the CEO of ExxonMobil, a company that would reap enormous profit from exploitation of Canadian tar sands oil. Trump’s energy secretary nominee, Rick Perry, was until recently on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of DAPL.

Trump’s executive order, “Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals For High Priority Infrastructure Projects,” released alongside the two memoranda, includes the claim that “too often, infrastructure projects in the United States have been routinely and excessively delayed by agency processes and procedures.” Along with a fourth memo demanding—without the force of law—that pipeline construction and repair projects “use materials and equipment produced in the United States,” this flurry of fiats sets the stage for the fast-tracked revival of both pipelines.

“It is pretty much a declaration of war against us all out here, not just against Native people, but against anybody who wants to drink water,” Winona LaDuke, Native American activist and executive director of the group Honor the Earth, told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “He definitely wants to shove those pipelines down our throats.”

Bobbi Jean Three Legs, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, began protesting DAPL before the first resistance camp was set up last April. She helped lead a 2,000-mile relay run for native youth, from the Sacred Stone Camp in Cannon Ball, N.D., to Washington, D.C., to draw attention to their struggle against the pipeline. “Water is Life” is their guiding principle, “Mni Wiconi” [minny wah-chonee] in the Lakota language. “He is waking up a lot of people. A lot of people are really paying attention to the climate change now,” Bobbi told us on “Democracy Now!.” “We’re never going to back down.”

Bobbi Jean Three Legs and Winona LaDuke worry about increased violence from the police and National Guard. Bobbi described the situation: “There’s still police brutality going on. People are still getting maced. They’re getting shot. ... There’s over 600 people that have been arrested so far, and it just keeps going up.” Her eyes welled up. “Right now I’m just asking all the youth around the country to stand up. I’m asking everyone around the world to stand up with us, wherever you are ... I’m afraid that they’re out to kill.”


Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman

Amy Goodman is the host and executive producer of Democracy Now!, a national, daily, independent, award-winning news program airing on over 1,400 public television and radio stations worldwide.

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan

Denis Moynihan has worked with Democracy Now! since 2000. He is a bestselling author and a syndicated columnist with King Features. He lives in Colorado, where he founded community radio station KFFR 88.3 FM in the town of Winter Park.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Terrible Idea': Biden Preparing to Shift Costs of Covid Treatments, Vaccines to Patients

"We must push back," said one doctor. "Free provision of vaccinations, Paxlovid, and monoclonals has been critically important."

Kenny Stancil ·


Trump-Appointed Judge Permanently Blocks Biden's Oil and Gas Leasing Moratorium

Fossil fuel extraction on federal lands and waters has accounted for an estimated 25% of all U.S. carbon emissions since 2005.

Jake Johnson ·


In Landslide 1,108-to-387 Vote, Maine Nurses Reject Effort to Decertify Their Union

"They thought because we were a new union, they could manipulate Maine Med nurses and overturn our 2021 election," said one nurse. "But we just showed them the door."

Jake Johnson ·


Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo