Phyllis Bennis, director of the
Institute for Policy Studies' New
(CNSNews.com) – A director at a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C. said on Tuesday that white privilege and white supremacy led to the Energy Transfer oil pipeline project that includes land in North Dakota, and compared it to building a pipeline under Arlington Cemetery and across the Potomac River.
Native Americans and others have been protesting the construction of the final portion of the 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that would connect the Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., for distribution of oil to domestic markets.
Phyllis Bennis, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ New Internationalism Project, first quoted David Archambault, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux, who has said the pipeline would harm burial grounds and threaten the water of Lake Oahe, the location of a Sioux ancestral site.
“‘This demolition is devastating,’” Bennis quoted Archambault. “’These grounds are the resting place of our ancestors, the ancient Cairns and stone prayer rings there cannot be replaced. In one day, our sacred land has been turned into hollow ground.’”
“The equivalent, we might think, would be building a pipeline under Arlington Cemetery and across the Potomac, and saying, ‘Well, it provides jobs – as if that were, one, true and two, the only important issue,” said Bennis.
“It’s also, I would say, an example of the classic consequences of white privilege in this country, of white supremacy in this country,” Bennis said.
Bennis also said that following the election of Donald Trump as president, the protests against the pipeline were at the “moral core” of resistance by “progressives” in this country and that the profits of corporations are taking priority over Native American rights.
As reported earlier by CNSNews.com, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved the project in July after extensive review of its environmental and cultural impact in the part of North Dakota that borders the Sioux reservation.
The Sioux tribe sued to stop the project, but in September a U.S. District Judge ruled that an injunction to stop the pipeline was not “warranted” and that the pipeline plan complied with the National Historic Preservation Act.
But the Obama administration temporarily halted the project and on Nov. 11 the Army Corps of Engineers issued a press release stating that more time was needed for “discussions” with the Sioux Nation.
“The Army continues to welcome any input that the Tribe believes is relevant to the proposed pipeline crossing or the granting of an easement,” the press release said.
“While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement,” read the statement.
“The Army will work with the Tribe on a timeline that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously,” the press release said. “We fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely, and urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.”