Press Release: Tribes call on President Obama to deny easement, investigate pipeline safety and protect tribal sovereignty

Under the cover of darkness, ETP and North Dakota try to hide law enforcement abuses

CANNON BALL, N.D. — Under the cover of darkness, North Dakota law enforcement have leveraged tear gas and water cannons to force Native Americans and allied water protectors to submit to unlawful police tactics in the wake of a standing order by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to stand down for further environmental review, Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chair Dave Archambault II charged on Sunday night.

“The easement to build the unsafe Dakota Access Pipeline has not been granted. But under the cover of darkness, North Dakota law enforcement continues to engage in unlawful and dehumanizing tactics to subdue peaceful water protectors with tear gas and water cannons,” Archambault said. “Live video footage on Facebook this Sunday night (Nov. 20) clearly document that North Dakota’s law enforcement and government officials have sanctioned aggressive acts in failed attempts to disperse water protectors who have the right to demonstrate against and report on this failing project. It’s time for President Obama to condemn these tactics and this pipeline.”

Standing Rock’s Tribal Chairman as we prepare to celebrate Native American heritage month – it’s time for Americans to rise up against this country’s historical treatment of Native Americans. “Our culture, our children and our homelands have repeatedly been stolen from us,” Archambault said. “We are deeply saddened that despite the millions of Americans and allies around the world who are standing with us at Standing Rock, a single corporate bully – backed by U.S. government taxpayer dollars through a militarized law enforcement – continue to be sanctioned by aggressive, unlawful acts. President Obama, this cannot be your legacy.

Archambault charged that the U.S. government is ignoring the facts on both the company’s treacherous record on safety and the local government’s continued civil rights violations.

ETP and Sunoco have a long record of poor safety on pipelines and public record of publicly advancing the project without permit approval. They just announced a $20 billion merger today.


ETP and Sunoco Logistics have a documented trail of leaks and a failure to protect the environment. The company has financial ties to President-elect Donald Trump in both campaign contributions and investments into the company.

ETP lobbyist Robert Crear formerly served as chief of staff and commanding general for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“He’s got a great track record. He’s done extremely well in past deals,” said Tom Seng, an assistant professor of energy business at the Collins College of Business at the University of Tulsa. “When he said he was going after Williams, everyone was like, ‘O.K., Kelcy gets what Kelcy wants.’

Warren has publicly and falsely claimed that DAPL had the authority to bulldoze through sacred sites and drill through the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux. And while documents show the pipeline was already rerouted away from Bismarck’s dense populations dominated by whites, it had no problem rerouting the pipeline through the economically depressed homelands of neighboring tribes. He has vowed to drill without rerouting the pipeline with approval from Trump.

ETP and Sunoco have an abysmal environmental and safety record. Globally depressed oil prices have already made the pipeline a risky investment as the need to transport oil at depressed prices make DAPL a poor return on investment.

  • ETP has lost a minimum of 18,845 barrels of crude oil through pipeline spills across the country since 2005.
  • Since 2010, the government has fined the company and its subsidiaries more than $22 million for environmental and other violations.
  • Sunoco Logistics – Has had more hazardous materials leak in the past decade than any other company – 274 incidents. (Second company had 18 fewer incidents and four times the miles of pipeline.)
  • Sonoco leaked 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a Pennsylvania creek after a landslide triggered by a flood.
  • ETP had a pipeline rupture in Texas that resulted in an explosion.
  • Company claims it has lost $450 million because of delays – but has yet to be issued the final required permit for drilling under the Missouri River.
  • North Dakota’s oversight of the oil industry was called into question by a 2014 New York Times investigation that found that North Dakota public officials largely allow the company to self-regulate itself. (The Down side of The Boom.)
  • Tribes and global banks have already begun divestment proceedings in the wake of a Trump presidency.

Law enforcement officials in North Dakota and others enlisted from out of state are clearly untrained in methods to de-escalate violence. Instead, through dangerous and dehumanizing tactics and a relentless public relations campaign largely advanced by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, they have championed construction of the pipeline despite federal approval to do so.

  • Elder tribal leaders and water protectors have been pulled out of sweat lodges while praying, strip searched and charged with crimes they did not commit. North Dakota law enforcement have taken the extra step of relocating unlawfully arrested citizens to jails outside of Bismarck in order to prolong their jail detentions.
  • Independent journalists and peaceful protectors have been tased, shot with rubber bullets, maced and sustained broken bones, strip searched and left naked, and hooded while zip-tied like war criminals.
  • Last week, a judge threw out felony charges against the majority of protectors arrested during one of the country’s most militarized raids every captured on television and video. North Dakota public officials have never apologized for their tactics.
  • After the October raid, 139 people were charged with one felony count of conspiracy to endanger by fire or explosion and two misdemeanor counts. The prosecutors filed a single complaint and supporting affidavit against all of them on Nov. 10. The judge said prosecutors failed to make their case.
  • “As far as the court can tell from the facts alleged in the affidavit, these fires were set sporadically, at different locations, by different individuals, seemingly at random. The State has not alleged facts sufficient to show an explicit or implicit agreement between the 139 defendants to commit the offense charged.” (The Bismarck Tribune)
  • Law enforcement agencies have encouraged local property owners to arm themselves against peaceful demonstrators, observers from Greenpeace witnessed.
  • Earlier in October, an unidentified man charged protectors at the camp with an assault firearm and was safely detained by protectors before he could discharge his weapon. North Dakota law enforcement has failed to provide a transparent report on this incident or the identity of the man or his relationship to DAPL or law enforcement despite repeated requests.
  • Police reported that water protector Red Fawn Fallis fired off a gun that required police to subdue her. Video footage of the incident shows a half-a-dozen male law enforcement officers subduing the 5’2” woman on her stomach, tasing her for 30 seconds without interruption before shots were fired. It is unclear where the shots came from. Witnesses at the scene have rejected law enforcement accounts of this incident.
  • Independent journalists reporting at the camps have been unlawfully arrested (Amy Goodman) or assaulted with rubber bullets while simply conducting on-site interviews.
  • Medics stationed at the camp have reported treating protectors for broken limbs, soft injuries from rubber bullets the size of baseballs and mace burns.
  • Camp water protectors have reported that at least two horses have been euthanized after law enforcement chased Native Americans on their horses with ATVs while shooting rubber bullets at the animals and their riders.
  • More than 600 wild buffalo were rounded up and sent to slaughter to make way for the pipeline earlier this month. An anonymous American donor has offered to pay for their release.