Senator Heidi Heitkamp needs to stand with Standing Rock Sioux #NoDAPL

  • Published on September 11th, 2016

By RL Miller

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota have been protesting construction of the Dakota #nodapl pipelineAccess pipeline since April. The pipeline, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, will carry fracked crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shalefields through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois and then to Texas and Louisiana. In other words, it’s Keystone XL all over again.

The planned pipeline threatens to pollute tribal waters and crosses land sacred to tribes, so the Standing Rock Tribe have been gathering at the site where it burrows under the Missouri River — and now construction there is on hold.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp, who represents North Dakota, has refused to take a stand on the pipeline. On the one hand, she claims to be a “strong and vocal advocate for North Dakota’s tribes” who is “dedicated to making sure our Native American brothers and sisters are not forgotten,” and tribes helped deliver her margin of victory in her 2012 Senate race.

On the other hand, she’s the most fossil-fuel-friendly Democrat in the Senate, constantly using her position to promote oil and coal. On the tough Climate Hawks Vote scorecard, she scored -68 in the 113th Congress (scale from -100 to +100) – that makes her the worst Democrat in the Senate on climate.

If we are to have any hope at all of staving off climate catastrophe, we need to halt the fracking of North Dakota’s oil shalefields—not build export pipelines that would allow the Bakken oil boom to increase. (Oh, and transporting the crude by rail is no better, despite Senator Heitkamp’s claim that first responders are very prepared.) Halting the Dakota Access pipeline is critical to keeping the Bakken crude in the ground.

Protests began in April, but they’ve picked up pace after the Army Corps of Engineers issued a questionable permit for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River, the source of the Standing Rock Sioux’s drinking water. Construction began on that segment on August 10, when the Standing Rock set up a peaceful encampment that put a halt to the work. A federal injunction barring Standing Rock protesters from “trespassing on private land” may come at any moment. A #NoDAPL week of action begins today — organize your own event in solidarity here.

I wrote a MoveOn petition asking Heidi Heitkamp to take a stand. Standing Rock Sioux chair David Archambault has asked her to oppose the pipeline. She needs to stand with the tribes who helped elect her in 2012, and for a livable climate for all.

Click here to tell Heidi Heitkamp to stand with Standing Rock Sioux.

About the Author

The chair of the Democratic Environmental Caucus, RL Miller also runs Climate Hawks Vote, which backs candidates for office who are serious about taking action on climate change.