Bucks residents join opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline

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Matt Schickling / Times photo – Protesters outside United Christian Church on New Falls Road in Levittown Tuesday night.

Bucks County residents joined an international effort to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline on Tuesday as part of the #NoDAPL Day of Action.

About 40 protesters organized outside the United Christian Church on New Falls Road in Levittown in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The effort was in conjunction with a larger demonstration in Doylestown, where about 200 protesters gathered at State and Main streets.

“This pipeline and what’s going on here is way more than about somebody’s property, way more than about these people,” said a protester in Levittown who identified as Lizzard Man. “It’s a movement. People all over the world are tired of corporations just doing what they want.”

The proposed pipeline would carry in excess of 450,000 barrels of oil per day across 1,172 miles, beginning in Northwest North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, then to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois.

The project was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and final permits were granted in July. On Monday, the day before the Day of Action, the Corps announced that it will not grant an easement for construction of the pipeline because “additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship and the statute governing easements through government property,” according to a press release.

The determination was made based on a review launched on Sept. 9.

The main opposition stems from Native Americans, specifically the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe with reservation lands in the Dakotas. Following the project’s approval, the Sioux sued the Corps.

“The construction and operation of the pipeline, as authorized by the Corps, threatens the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe,” the complaint read.

Since, other tribes of indigenous people from all over the world as well as American protesters have joined the opposition.

Arguments for the pipeline, proposed by the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, suggest that it would be an economic boon for the United States, lifting the nation’s reliance on foreign oil.

Energy Transfer Partners even denounced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision for additional discussion in a press statement, calling it “unjust and a reinforcement of the Administration’s lack of interest in enforcing and abiding by the law.”

But tens of thousands of activists are on the side of the Standing Rock Sioux, claiming that the pipeline, which is proposed to cross Lake Oahe, the Missouri River and about 200 other waterways, presents a danger in the potential for leaks or breaks that could harm the water supply to surrounding citizens.

“It’s about Native Americans having their rights. They have the right to their clean water and their land,” said Tim Mammel of Newtown Township. “It’s just like any other situation where you have Native Americans who don’t really have the power to stand up to corporations, and they just take whatever they want.”

Mammel, like many locals opposed to the pipeline, first learned about the issue via social media. Violent videos of clashes between protesters and police in North Dakota have gone viral on Facebook and other social sites, including protesters being shot with rubber bullets, pepper sprayed and arrested.

Despite the prolific social media presence, some locals feel that the protests do not get enough attention from the mainstream media.

“For all the length of time this has been going on, it’s gotten very little national media attention,” Yardley resident Barbara Kibler said. “I feel like it’s a political endeavor. To bulldoze through sacred grounds and to disrespect indigenous people is just beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned.”

Some felt it’s a fight for everyone’s rights, not just the Native Americans and protesters on the frontlines. It will surely continue in the Dakotas, but locals want to make sure they don’t give up, either. The organizers are planning another rally on Nov. 22 at the United Christian Church in Levittown from 4:30 to 6 p.m.

“The people who have been the most abused, have had the most atrocities against them, are standing up for all of us, and we’re here to stand up with them and say we’re here with you,” said Scott Evans of Bordentown, New Jersey. “We can’t do this to Mother Earth anymore.”

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