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Obama Needs To Uphold The Rights Of Standing Rock Protesters

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STANDING ROCK PROTESTERS
Stephanie Keith / Reuters
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What is going on at Standing Rock is a perfect example of large oil and gas companies taking advantage of marginalized communities in America. These historical protests regarding the right to water, are not receiving adequate news coverage, especially in light of an impending order from the governor to remove protesters from the camp.

The recent announcement of the clearing of protesters came a day after Thanksgiving, a holiday related to the oppression of native communities in America. The truth behind thanksgiving is that in 1637, over 700 men, women, and children were massacred by the English and Dutch colonists. This important part of history not widely accepted in America, the holiday is centered around the false narrative of victory and celebration.

Regardless if you are for or against this $3.8 billion pipeline, a fact which cannot be disputed is the inhumane treatment of Aboriginal Peoples in Western society throughout history. Americans enjoy their freedoms, including their free-flowing water -- often taken for granted due to easy access. Meanwhile, Native Americans are being beaten, gassed and shot in North Dakota.

The violent crackdowns by law enforcement and private contractors are a violation of human rights. Violence against peaceful protests is usually condemned by the U.S. government when it is taking place in a foreign nation. These violations have prompted a United Nations investigation into the violence that has been taking place at Standing Rock.

Claire Burnish of The Free Thought Project explains that: "for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the peaceful fight to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline isn't environmental activism; it's preservation of life, protection of a living entity -- the Missouri River and Lake Oahe reservoir -- as real as flesh, or plant, or animal."

The Obama administration has failed to protect peaceful protesters, sacred native lands, and more importantly has failed to protect vital water sources.

With recent advances in clean energy and the huge drop in oil prices, large costly pipelines are unnecessary. They pose a huge risk to the environment, outweighing any monetary gains the big oil companies may see from these pipelines. With recent advancements in wind, solar, hydro, and other types of clean energy, and the recent losses of the oil and gas industry, the U.S. should shift its focus away from oil and gas production.

A recent report has cited 220, "significant" spills just this year alone! With three this month alone, and more than 3,032 since 2006. The same report states that it has cost roughly $4.7 Billion dollars to clean up these spills. Often times these cleanup efforts are ineffective and have lasting damage to ecosystems, habitats, wildlife, drinking water, which endanger the American people. On average after all the cleanup efforts which only partially does the job, roughly 31,000 barrels of oil are not able to be cleaned up per year.

It is costing the American taxpayer around $10 Million for law enforcement at Standing Rock. A recent report states that two law enforcement officials have turned in their badges, in regards to the tactics and violence being used against peaceful protesters. This report cites two police department's refusal to return to Standing Rock, as lawmakers label police actions as "inappropriate."

The tactics being used are unprecedented against peaceful protests in the United States, with over 300 people injured and reportedly 26 people being hospitalized. Meanwhile, there are over 1,000 U.S. veterans mobilizing to continue their duty to protect the American people, as they will deploy to Standing Rock on Dec 4th.

The Obama administration has failed to protect peaceful protesters, sacred native lands, and more importantly has failed to protect vital water sources. Over his two terms, President Obama has spoken on protecting native land; made campaign promises to change the U.S.-native relations, and declared November as Native American Heritage month, such actions mean very little in due to his inaction on this issue.

Obama needs to take action to de-escalate the situation at Standing Rock, and uphold the rights of the protesters.

In light of the recent election, it is being reported Donald Trump owns a stake in the parent company building the pipeline. Trump faces a number of conflict of interests this being no different, recently the CEO of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners Kelcy Warren, was quoted telling the Associated Press it is an expectation that Trump will make it easier for such projects to be completed. Warren donated $3,000 to Trump's campaign, $100,000 to a Pro-Trump committee, and $66,800 to the RNC.

The pipeline would almost certainly be completed under a Trump Administration. He has stated publicly that global warming is a ploy by the Chinese, and has expressed support for the oil and gas industry.

A previous plan for the pipeline had the route crossing the Missouri river, the neighbourhoods of Bismark North Dakota spoke out about the damage a leak could cause to their water supply. This just shows the double standard that has always been present in America with some experts referring to this as "environmental racism." This pipeline endangers the main water source for many, with water being a necessity for life, there has been speculation of a possible reroute.

A recent report published states that if the January 1st deadline for completion is not met this could place the entire pipeline in Limbo, as contracts will have to be renegotiated between contractors and investors. Obama needs to take action to de-escalate the situation at Standing Rock, and uphold the rights of the protesters.

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