Irony doesn’t get easier to see than this.
During their months-long run at the Standing Rock protest camp in North Dakota, anti-pipeline agitators described themselves as “protectors of the local waters” against the pollutants they claim will be a result of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). (Just approved today by the Army Corps of Engineers, after a years-long consultative process.)
Their unvarying dual claims were that they were there to protect Sioux sacred sites from the pipeline, and that they were “water protectors,” camping out in the tent city to protect the water against the pipeline.
It was a really awesome experience, for at least some young, aspiring journalists:
The atmosphere of Oceti Sakowin [the name given to the camp] was one of peace and love. The camp was inhabited by people from all over the country who might otherwise never have crossed paths but who stood in solidarity for one common goal. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.
On Monday morning, I attended an informal press conference for veterans that included speakers like Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Phyllis Young, tribal elder and prominent leader of the movement. They thanked the veterans for their support, and discussed the importance of unity. “Unless we protect our water, there is no economy; there are no jobs; there is no life,” Gabbard said. …
My time in North Dakota was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I learned more about the Dakota Access Pipeline, but also grasped that it wasn’t simply about a oil-carrying pipe in the ground. This issue is about the rights of indigenous people, respecting sacred land and honoring our treaties to Natives. It is about a level of environmental oppression that deserved national coverage.
The story was overlooked as merely the latest chronicle in the tale of the haves and the have-nots. The Standing Rock Sioux encampment was a communitarian living structure: food, shelter and healthcare were shared. I found that what we all agreed on as our shared American values came forward most when they were acknowledged least. Much of what we take for granted is the same thing these people have historically been denied. It’s vital to realize that what the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters are fighting for is recognition as human beings, and their message has never been anything other than peace and preservation of our planet.
In light of these affirmations, savvy observers won’t be surprised to learn that the camp had to be cleared by authorities, starting in December (see first link above), because it will take weeks to remove the tons and tons of toxifying trash piled up by the communitarian environmentalist “water protectors.”
The enormous piles of trash cover several acres. They are mostly frozen at the moment. But when the spring thaw sets in, and the area floods with spring rains, the trash has to be gone. If it isn’t, the toxic output from its putrefaction will pervade and pollute the waterways and groundwater.
Multiple levels of government are assisting in the clean-up, which is being managed by the Standing Rock Sioux. The tribe estimates its own cost to complete the clean-up will be up to $250,000. The tribal costs will be defrayed by donations, which can be made at the PayPal site for the protest camp.
It’s worth noting that the notoriously hedonistic Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert has long had an integrated plan for trash removal, and in fact urges on attendees its “Leave no Trace” policy. Discipline isn’t 100%, naturally, but Burners are reputed to do a pretty good job of cleaning up after themselves. Reportedly, the Burning Man trash plan has been so successful that the Bureau of Land Management has adopted its standards, for enforcement on other activities held on federal lands.
Moreover, the company Dakota Access LLC had to prepare an extensive Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) in order to gain approval for the pipeline project. Millions in private investment money will go to adhering strictly to this plan, and the pipeline will have to pay for the monitoring services that ensure its construction meets requirements, doesn’t leave trash, doesn’t cause pollution, and doesn’t create problems that someone else will have to deal with.
But if you’re Joe Bag O’Wind in North Dakota camping out to “protect water,” you can just throw trash in a big pile and forget about it. Someone else will take care of the actual work of removing you and your trash to accommodate Mother Nature’s schedule, so that your unmindful immaturity doesn’t produce an environmental disaster.