A number of climate change and indigenous land rights activists were arrested today following an attempt to shut off five major oil pipelines from Canada.
Together, the lines targeted in this protest can carry up to 2.8 million barrels of oil each day, representing about 15 percent of our daily oil consumption in the United States.
Protesters in Montana, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington state were arrested after turning off valves on pipelines that flow from Canada's oil sands into the United States, said Climate Direct Action.
The activist group also posted videos online showing the protesters breaking chains and turning the valves. It did not say how many people had been arrested and no confirmation was immediately available from police in the localities involved.
In a press release, the group said it had attempted to shut the pipelines in support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been protesting the construction of a $3.7 billion pipeline carrying oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf Coast over fears of potential damage to sacred land and water supplies.
"We are acting in response to this catastrophe we are facing," Afrin Sopariwala, a spokeswoman for the group, told Reuters.(...)Sopariwala said protesters shut down the pipelines between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. PT (1330 to 1430 GMT) by manually shutting off valves. In some places they had to cut chains to reach the valves. She said the group had spent months researching how to safely shut down the pipelines.
Related coverage by Jack Healy at the New York Times, “Ranchers Tote Guns as Tribes Dig In for Long Pipeline Fight,” covers tensions between armed ranchers and the determined group of indigenous and non-indigenous activists who have maintained a protest encampment now for months:
Ranchers are arming themselves before they climb onto tractors or see to their livestock. Surveillance helicopters buzz low through the prairie skies. Native Americans fighting to prevent an oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are handing out thick blankets and coats and are building maple-pole shelters that can withstand North Dakota’s bitter winter.
As the first deep freeze looms, many here are bracing for a long fight as the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline races to finish the $3.7 billion project by January, and thousands of protesters tucked into tents, tepees and trailers in prairie camps vow to stop it.