The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Tom Goldtooth: 'They Cannot Extinguish the Fire That Standing Rock Started'
By Andy Rowell
But in the face of such violence and intimidation, the growing movement against new fossil fuels will not be intimidated, it will only grow.
The latest violence was Thursday morning. In highly distressing scenes for anyone who has been involved fighting the highly controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, highly militarized law enforcement—some carrying guns, riot gear and backed up by Humvees and bulldozers—moved into the Oceti Sakowin camp near the pipeline route.
Their aim was to officially shut it down and clear it. Only the last hundred or so defiant protectors remained. Some 46 people, including journalists, veterans, elders and other water protectors who had remained were said to have been arrested. Many others had left the camp voluntarily the day before, marching in solidarity arm in arm out of the camp.
Journalist Ed Higgins being arrested during the raid on the Oceti Sakowin Camp—his press badge clearly visible.Rob Wilson Photography / Facebook
Last week, the North Dakota governor had given a deadline of mid this week for people to leave. By Wednesday, the camp had been surrounded by police and military. As they left many people burned their tents, teepees and shelters in a symbolic act of defiance.
Chase Iron Eyes of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said: "It reminded me of pictures or maybe memory in my DNA, of the massacres, when you see teepees and structures burned; it was extremely traumatic, a heavy feeling."
There was outrage at the over-use of force Thursday. "Knifing tipis and pointing loaded rifles at the occupants. It's the 1800s all over again," tweeted Ruth Hopkins, a former judge for the Spirit Lake Nation and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe.
The activities by the authorities Thursday are just not acceptable.
However, from the ashes of the camp, comes a new empowered movement that will resist this horrendous Trump assault on the environment and on Indigenous rights.
Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, said the forced evacuation was a "violent and unnecessary infringement on the constitutional right of water protectors to peacefully protest and exercise their freedom of speech."
However, Goldtooth, added: "Our hearts are not defeated. The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight. It is a new beginning. They cannot extinguish the fire that Standing Rock started."
Others were equally angry: James T. Meggesto, a member of the Onondaga Indian Nation, told Salon:
Today is a sad reminder that at its core, this dispute has always been about environmental justice and the lack thereof in Indian country, because once again Indian people are literally being forced to accept a dangerous oil pipeline directly upstream of their water supply that was rejected by a non-Indian community for precisely this reason.
After watching the events unfold, Chairman Frazier of the Cheyenne River Sioux said:
What I have witnessed today is pretty sickening. Really disappointed. Like in our history we will rise again. I feel more defiant than ever. There are a lot of things that North Dakota have done that they need to pay for. To destroy sacred sites, ceremonial lodges. They have to be held accountable … They have no respect for our way of life and for all the people in the camp.
In a defiant post on Facebook Thursday, one of the activists and community organizer, Lyla June, said:
They might have buried things, but we have planted seeds and we have planted seeds all across the world. We have inspired and awakened people to see what in a new way. To see what as life. We have united things that were never united before...
We united people from all races behind a common dream and that is a win ... And we fought in a manner that was so beautiful, with so much honor and dignity .. The other win is that we gave our bodies on the line, we fought in courts, we fought financially, we have done everything in our power to protect our water and that is a win. We are going to continue by taking the money from Wells Fargo and other banks.
And as if on cue, Thursday the German bank BayernLB, which has $120 million invested in the pipeline announced they will "withdraw from the financing contract at the earliest possible date." Furthermore, they will not be renewing their contract with Energy Transfer Partners.
The move came after a petition had been handed to the bank with more than 300,000 signatures opposing the pipeline.
So the camp may be gone. The fight will continue. The seeds have been planted. And they will continue to grow. We will resist Trump and his fossil fuel cronies. This is not the end, just a new beginning of resistance.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Will Sarni
It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.
The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future
We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.
"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.
One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.
Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.
Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.
These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.
We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).
We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.
We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.
Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.
Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.
- Newark Water Filters Are Working, Tests Suggest - EcoWatch ›
- Newark's Lead Crisis Escalates - EcoWatch ›
- Mice exposed to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor developed lung cancer within a year.
- More research is needed to know what this means for people who vape.
- Other research has shown that vaping can cause damage to lung tissue.
A new study found that long-term exposure to nicotine-containing e-cigarette vapor increases the risk of cancer in mice.
Six months: That's how much time Mexico now has to report on its progress to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) from extinction.
It may seem innocuous to flush a Q-tip down the toilet, but those bits of plastic have been washing up on beaches and pose a threat to the birds, turtles and marine life that call those beaches home. The scourge of plastic "nurdles," as they are called, has pushed Scotland to implement a complete ban on the sale and manufacture of plastic-stemmed cotton swabs, as the BBC reported.
By Tim Radford
Scientists in the U.S. have added a new dimension to the growing hazard of extreme heat. As global average temperatures rise, so do the frequency, duration and intensity of heatwaves.
Oscar-award winning actress and long-time political activist Jane Fonda was arrested on the steps of Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on Friday for peacefully protesting the U.S. government's inaction in combating the climate crisis, according to the AP.
By Caroline Hickman
I'm up late at night worrying that my baby brothers may die from global warming and other threats to humanity – please can you put my mind at rest? – Sophie, aged 17, East Sussex, UK