Pipeline at heart of protests and legal action could be transporting oil within three months – but Standing Rock activists say they will stay put
Dakota Access pipeline workers have begun the final phase of drilling across the Missouri river despite massive international protests and a legal challenge from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
The restarting of the drilling operation, which a pipeline spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday morning, began soon after the US government gave the oil corporation the green light to proceed on Wednesday. The controversial pipeline could be transporting crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois within three months.
At the Standing Rock camps in Cannon Ball – where activists have been stationed since last spring to fight the project – indigenous and environmental organizers vowed to stay put and continue opposing the pipeline.
“We’re adamant about standing up against the pipeline regardless of the push to get us out,” said Irina Lukban, a 22-year-old activist. Late Wednesday night, she and other demonstrators, who call themselves water protectors, gathered around a table of maps at Sacred Stone, the first camp set up in opposition to the pipeline, and discussed strategy.
“We have to unify in the face of this adversity,” said Lukban, who is from California and is a member of an indigenous tribe in the Philippines.
The construction is a devastating blow to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose fight against the $3.7bn pipeline became a flashpoint across the globe for indigenous rights and climate change activism.