Letter To The Editor: Open Letter To Obama From Sierran

Santa Fe
Dear President Obama,

Earlier this week, my wife and I returned from several days volunteering at the Oceti Sakowin camp in North Dakota. There was a lot of activity in camp preparing for the winter. I have never encountered so much positive energy towards a common goal, it was with great sadness we had to depart due to both of us getting viral infection of the lung.

Generally, an 1800+ mile long oil pipeline would require an environmental impact statement (EIS). This has NOT been done for this major project. Given president-elect Trump’s statements that he will permit all oil pipelines, I believe the burden is on you to require an EIS at the earliest possible time.

The original routing of this pipeline had it crossing north of Bismarck, but the risk to the water of the people of Bismarck was deemed too high. So it was moved to just north of the boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. This seems to send the message to this tribe, who should be treated as a sovereign nation, that pollution of their water is OK.

Further, given Article 2 of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty states the tribe shall be granted the “undisturbed use and occupation” of their lands. It would appear the Department of Justice is not doing its job, ensuring that treaties are followed. The tribe has not been adequately consulted. To the extent I am aware of, the tribe does not want the DAPL pipeline crossing the Missouri river at any point, the risk to the water is too great.

Finally, the response of State of North Dakota, Morton County, private security companies, and the National Guard has been quite irresponsible. There is a difference between a peaceful protest and a riot. The water protectors defending the water at Oceti Sakowin have been very clear to the folks going to the front lines that theirs is a peaceful protest. I ask you to re-deploy the National Guard to protect the protectors. The pipeline has plenty of folks defending it, but not until December 4 are un-armed military veterans going to be on site to protect and defend the peaceful water protectors.

This weekend’s news that the permit for Oceti Sakowin camp is being revoked as of December 5 is horrifying. I can see the military forces forcibly removing 3,000 people from a peaceful camp ending the very positive legacy of your presidency in a horrible way.

Thank you for your time and consideration.