In the open letter, published here, Senator Sanders “respectfully but urgently” requests the President’s intervention in the situation in North Dakota. He states that the first priority must be “protecting the safety of the peaceful protesters” and urges President Obama to “send observers to protect the protesters’ First Amendment rights to protest the pipeline” as well as “remove the National Guard from the camp.”
Sanders goes on to demand that all federal permits for the pipeline project be suspended until a full cultural and environmental review can be completed. He states:
“To my mind, the Corps should have never approved this project on an expedited basis in the first place. If completed the pipeline will transport nearly 20 million gallons of crude oil every day, potentially threatening dozens of bodies of water.”
Finally, echoing what many believe is the root cause of the struggle, Sanders states, “It is deeply distressing to me that the federal government is putting the profits of the oil industry ahead of the treaty and sovereign rights of Native American communities. I understand the Standing Rock Sioux have sued to stop the pipeline, citing the very serious environmental concerns, enrichment on culturally sensitive lands, and violations of tribal treaty rights to a meaningful consultative role in the federal permitting process. To my mind, it is simply unacceptable to build a project like this, in one of the poorest counties in the nation, without the approval of the Native American residents who live there.”
The protesters at Standing Rock have faced escalated force this week after police in full riot gear arrived in armored vehicles and proceeded to use tear gas, pepper spray and sound canons to try and disperse the front line camp. Over 140 were arrested this week, following the 120 that were arrested over the weekend.
The Dakota Access pipeline, should it be completed, would transport hundreds of thousands of crude oil daily and would disrupt countless Native American burial sites and artifacts, not to mention be a huge threat to nearby water supplies.