Dallas Protests After Dakota Access Pipeline Construction Resumes

Locally, Kelcy Warren may be known for the 8.7-acre Park Lane estate he owns, or for Klyde Warren Park. Nationally, he is under fire for his role in a controversial construction project, as the head of the company building a pipeline that will carry crude oil through North Dakota to three other states.

On Friday, protesters brought the fight home to Dallas, outside the park Warren named after his son.

Lining the sidewalk on the corner of Harwood Street and Woodall Rogers Freeway behind a large tin foil pipe that took most of them to carry, they echoed the North Dakota protests in their message to Warren: don’t build the Dakota Access Pipeline through sacred Native American land, and don’t build it through a main water supply.

“Find another source altogether — wind, solar,” an Arapaho protester, who asked to remain anonymous, said on Friday.

“It’s a huge disrespect,” Arthur Redcloud, a Navajo protester, said. “We wouldn’t bulldoze through his parents’ and grandparents’ graves. Why should we have to go through that just because of what he wants to do? Disrespecting those graves — that’s what the government tried to do years ago with us.”

Warren’s company Energy Transfer Partners, a Fortune 500 natural gas and propane company based on Oak Lawn Avenue, resumed construction Oct. 11 on the pipeline near Lake Oahe, a reservoir on the Missouri River. 

Previously, the company had been ordered by federal injunction to halt construction within 20 miles east or west of the lake. Although the land is privately owned, it is sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. The pipeline route, which goes through the tribe’s burial grounds, also runs close to their main drinking water supply.

Photo: Chris McGathey
Photo: Chris McGathey

Warren sent out an internal memo to his employees in September during the temporary halt, insisting that “concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the local water supply are unfounded.” A U.S. court of appeals sided with the company and overturned the injunction earlier this month.

On the day of the Dallas protests, a Sunoco oil pipeline spilled gasoline into a tributary of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. Sunoco, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, will operate the Dakota Access Pipeline when it is completed.

Due to the spill, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection advised Pennsylvania American Water to shut down their intake of water from the contaminated plant. The company redirected their water supply to another plant and asked customers to restrict their non-essential water use for several days while they tested the water.

This could be called bad timing, but it is hardly the company’s first oil spill. In June, the company paid the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $850,000 in a settlement after an oil leak in Texas and Oklahoma, according to Law360. The company has made multiple multi-million dollar settlements due to oil spills.

According to Reuters, Sunoco has had more than 200 leaks since 2010, and spills crude more often than any of its competitors.

“This [the Missouri River] is a major water source that distributes water to reservations,” Heather Alford, a protester and member of the Cherokee nation, said. “There’s got to be another way to do what needs to be done.”

Native American tribes have congregated to peacefully protest the pipeline in North Dakota. “We felt the need to stand in solidarity, to help protect the land and our ancestors,” said one protester who asked to remain anonymous but identified as a member of a sister tribe from Wyoming. She was in North Dakota when the tribes congregated in September.

“It makes me feel proud,” she said. “All natives are uniting, all races are uniting. We’ve got support from all across the world. It’s not worth transporting oil to damage land and water.”

Photo: Chris McGathey
Photo: Chris McGathey

Among those protesting in Dallas, members of the Standing Rock and other tribes were joined by non-tribal members, who said they were supporting native rights, raising climate change awareness, protecting clean water, and standing up to a bully.

In a memo sent to his employees and media, Warren urged that “any protests be undertaken in a peaceful and law-abiding manner.”

Protests have repeatedly turned violent when in multiple cases peaceful protesters were attacked by Energy Transfer Partners’ security guard dogs.

Despite protests and stop-and-go government mandates, the company has maintained a hard line and insists that the project will go through.

In Warren’s most recent statement, he wrote, “We continue to believe that the [U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] will soon issue the easement for approximately 1,100 feet necessary for the crossing beneath the Missouri River — the sole remaining authorization necessary for completion of the project.”

Warren said his company was in compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act and had “carefully considered the views of all potentially affected tribes that chose to participate in the consultative process prescribed by Congress.”

“Enough is enough,” Redcloud said. “This is not just about the pipeline, this is about water. It’s about everybody. He’s trying to buy something money can’t buy.”

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