Say a Prayer for the Water Protectors: President-Elect Trump a Likely DAPL Supporter

Efforts to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have taken a sharp turn for the worse and the potential for more violent conflict has increased.

Say a prayer for the Water Protectors.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was going to ask Energy Transfer Partners to voluntarily delay construction of DAPL for 30 days, according to an article in Mother Jones. That delay won’t happen. A Tuesday headline in the Guardian read: Dakota pipeline operator to defy Obama and push on with final phase of drilling:

The Dakota Access pipeline operator chose the day of the US presidential election to announce that the final phase of its controversial construction project will begin in two weeks – marking a bold escalation in its response to the Native American protests.

Donald Trump had not taken a position on DAPL during the campaign, but it seems President-elect Trump will have no qualms about approving it.

First, Trump doesn’t share environmental concerns posed by the pipeline. He thinks climate change is a hoax. Bloomberg ran a story today headlined: Trump Victory Deals Blow to Global Fight Against Climate Change.”The next president has questioned the science of climate change, vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement on global warming and pledging to stimulate production of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. ” it said.

Second, Trump is a business partner on DAPL. The Guardian ran an Oct. 26 story headlined: Dakota Access pipeline company and Donald Trump have close financial ties.

Trump’s financial disclosure forms show the Republican nominee has between $500,000 and $1m invested in Energy Transfer Partners, with a further $500,000 to $1m holding in Phillips 66, which will have a 25% stake in the Dakota Access project once completed.

It’s not clear what Trump will do as president in terms of putting his investments in a blind trust or simply having his children run his company, but clearly he is not a disinterested party in DAPL.

Lastly and most importantly, Trump’s attitude towards Native sovereignty is deeply concerning. DAPL aside, there are deeper questions about the direction he will take federal Indian policy. For insight, read Indian Country Today’s July 28 story: Donald Trump and Federal Indian Policy: ‘They Don’t Look Like Indians to Me’. It relates Trump’s 1993 congressional testimony around Indian gaming and his concerns that it had an “unfair advantage” over his casinos. The article had a partial transcript from 1993 Trump interview with Don Imus:

TRUMP: Well, I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations.

I looked at one of them – well, I won’t go into the whole story, but I can tell you, I said to him, “I think I have more Indian blood in me than you have in you.” And he laughed at me and he sort of acknowledged that I was right. But it’s a joke. It’s really a joke.

The article concluded with the following:

Donald Trump’s most notable comments about Indian tribes – made before the Committee on Natural Resources – reveal that he does not draw the distinction between the racial and political identities of Indian people. His view of the legitimacy of Indian tribes depends on the physical appearance of their members. As he told Don Imus, “it’s just one of those things that we have to straighten out.”

Prior to the election, we had written that here was still hope to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny Energy Transfer Partners the permits it needs to bore under Missouri River at Lake Oahe. We have read contradictory information about which permits DAPL still needs. However, with President-elect Trump, the question seems to be when the permits get approved, not if they get approved.

DAPL Opposition Will Only Grow

The #No DAPL Water Protectors are digging in near Standing Rock, prepared with winter gear. Their efforts have  drawn international attention and support. The latest example comes from a group of Mayan people who traveled from Guatemala to North Dakota to show their support.

Expect support for Water Protectors to grow. And given the heavily militarized response we have seen to date, expect the potential for conflict and injury to grow, too.

Say a prayer for the Water Protectors.

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