Robert Kennedy Jr., environmental activist, author and attorney, described this week why the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is illegal, injurious and deadly. Kennedy, the nephew of President John Kennedy and son of former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy is the president of WaterKeeper Alliance, the largest, global, non-profit organization protecting the planet’s water. Over 300 Waterkeeper organizations in 34 countries are protecting waterways around the world, many of whom joined this week’s international protest against the DAPL.
“As protests continue over the pipeline, the looming shadow of President-Elect Donald Trump threatens to inflame the entire movement,” stated Thom Hartman of the Big Picture, also asking, “Are the next two months the last chance we have to stop a pipeline that threatens the drinking water of 18 million people?”
Hartman’s Big Picture Politics Panel interviewed Robert Kennedy Jr this week soon after Kennedy returned North Dakota. Kennedy Jr., son of the late Senator Bobby Kennedy, described the massive scale of the project, that has sparked protests among locals and Indian tribes in the path of project, because it has not undergone proper environmental impact analysis and its construction has been illegal.
Since September, people of Standing Rock have camped along the Missouri River in peaceful protest of the pipeline to protect their homeland, historic and sacred sites and drinking water of millions of Americans. Tens of thousands of other people have journeyed across America and some have traveled from South America to stand in solidarity with Standing Rock peoples.
“Today, we stand in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock and commend the Sioux Nation for taking on this courageous fight on behalf of our country, humanity, and democracy,” Kennedy had said earlier this week. “Across the nation, communities of color face environmental and public health threats most communities don’t have to think about. This historic peaceful protest declares that all communities deserve clean water.”
Tuesday, Kennedy met with Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II, toured the protest camps and held a press conference where he called on President Obama to halt construction immediately. He called for a full Environmental Impact Statement to assess the cumulative impacts, as required under the National Environmental Policy Act for a project of this size.
“This project is huge – 1,200 miles – only 7 miles less than the XL Pipeline, and the XL Pipeline got a full environmental impact statement,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to create more carbon pollution than 29 coal burning power plants. It crosses and disrupts 209 streams, and there are all kinds of other problems, such as cultural areas, Indian graveyards, and these kinds of things – any of those individually you would need to get a full environmental impact statement.”
President-elect Donald Trump is considering oil tycoon Harold Hamm for Energy Secretary and chose climate change denier Myron Ebell to lead the Environmental Protection Agency transition. Trump plans to roll back President Obama’s environmental and energy policies. He plans to deregulate production of oil, coal and natural gas, opening the floodgate for more fossil fuel disasters and catastrophes, such as the BP gulf oil catastrophe that left tens of thousands of people either dead, dying, extremely ill and forsaken.
“Donald Trump has millions invested directly in oil companies and stakeholders like Energy Transfer Partners, whose stock will rise significantly at the expense of Standing Rock’s health and rights,” says Kennedy. “It is not a question of if, but when. Oil pipelines leak and break and poison our waters.”
Each year in the United States, oil pipelines spill an average of 11-million gallons. The Dakota Access Pipeline breaking would dump crude oil into the Missouri River, poisoning drinking water of the tribes and communities along the Missouri River Basin, potentially 18-million people.
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