By J.G. Noll
More than 2,000 veterans collectively known as “Veterans Stand” made national news last December when they arrived at the Standing Rock Reservation, promising to protect protesters against an increasingly militarized police force. Just after their arrival, then-President Obama ordered the Corps of Army Engineers to reject an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and to conduct another environmental impact study to identify different routes for the pipeline. The company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, said they would not consider new routes.
The Corps launched a new environmental impact study with the goal of identifying new routes for the pipeline — an option Energy Transfer Partners said it would not consider.
The pipeline, first protested by a multi-nation group of indigenous protesters (self-named water protectors), has continued to spark anger and emotions across the nation because its planned path desecrates Native American sacred sites– including burial grounds– and threatens reservation water sources.
One of the first Executive Orders President Trump signed in the week after his inauguration directed steps that would lead to the completion of two pipelines: the Keystone XL and DAPL. Regarding DAPL, the order requires the Corps of Engineers to conduct the review of the pipeline and approve it “in an expedited manner… to the extent permitted by law and as warranted.” President Trump has reportedly sold his investment in the DAPL company, Energy Transfer Partners, and Phillips 66 (which has a small investment in the pipeline); however, Energy Transfer Parters gave $100,000 in campaign contributions to a joint Trump-Republican Party fundraiser.
In the weeks since the Executive Order, there has been a ramp-up in activity at Standing Rock, including the arrest of 76 protesters and the clearing of a camp. The camp leaders have asked protesters to leave by February 19 as they vow to battle the pipeline in court, although it seems highly unlikely many will heed the request.
In light of the Executive Order and subsequent governmental actions, Veterans Stand has launched a GoFundMe page and published a press release pledging support for the water protectors and protesters of Standing Rock. According to a Facebook post on January 27, the GoFundMe is in direct response to “the turmoil and uncertainty at Standing Rock has increased significantly. We have continued to stay in contact with indigenous and camp leadership and have identified several areas where the Veterans Stand network can continue to serve the needs of the camp and local community.” Those areas include supporting stranded volunteers, supplies for the camp, and operating and mobilization costs of Veterans Stand. As of February 2, the page has raised $168,000, with a goal of $500,000.
Here’s the entire press release from Veterans Stand:
Los Angeles, CA– Veterans Stand is committed to ensuring that all of our indigenous brothers and sisters are respected, and that they remain safe, supplied, and supported, regardless of any planned actions by ETP and local/hired law enforcement. Given the current news reports of escalations in timelines for the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) and increased security forces we are left asking, how can something be good for America when it disregards due process of law, risking our civil liberties and essential natural resources? All the verifiable information we’ve reviewed indicates not only that the ETP and the DAPL project are serious environmental liabilities, but also that militarized police and security forces are committing human and civil rights violations in an attempt to silence and clear the camps.At this time, we are continuing to raise awareness, fundraising and working with the tribal leadership and our network of water protectors to carry out important tasks in the camps, and make preparations for what may come in light of a recent executive memo and news of approval of the easement. We have had thousands of volunteers reconfirm their dedication to the cause, and readiness to help. The success of our fundraising campaign will ultimately dictate our overall potential for a boots-on-the-ground presence but our learnings from the first mission in December have allowed us to create the right infrastructure to move quickly.We believe that human rights and the sustainability of the environment come before the opportunity to profit. We believe in the importance, power, and potential of our communities. We hold our oath to defend the constitution and the people of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We Stand United with Standing Rock.Respectfully,Veterans Stand Team
J.G. Noll is the Editor of Military One Click and a veteran’s spouse. She can be reached at [email protected]