‘Dakota Access pipeline will enrich a few… but impoverish the nation’ – Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Protesters march in Bismarck during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, North Dakota, U.S. November 17, 2016. © Stephanie Keith
The Dakota Access pipeline is going to enrich a few billionaires, like Donald Trump, who holds a $2 million dollar stake in it. But it’s going to impoverish the rest of the country, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said on Thom Hartmann’s RT program The Big Picture.

Construction of the $3.7 billion pipeline has been drawing protests since the spring, with the Sioux tribe and environmental activists claiming it could pollute nearby water sources and destroy the tribe’s sacred sites, including burial grounds.

Once on-line, the 1,200-mile pipeline will carry 500,000 gallons of crude oil daily from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois.

On Tuesday, there were nationwide protests at Army Corps of Engineers offices demanding the US government halt or reroute the pipeline, which is already reportedly 85 percent finished.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., son of the late Senator Bobby Kennedy, described the massive scale of the project, which has sparked protests among locals, as well as Indian tribes that are in the path of project, because it has not undergone the proper environmental impact analysis.

“This project is huge – 1,200 miles – only 7 miles less than the XL Pipeline, and the XL Pipeline got a full environmental impact statement,” Kennedy said. “It’s going to create more carbon pollution than 29 coal burning power plants. It crosses and disrupts 209 streams, and there are all kinds of other problems, such as cultural areas, Indian graveyards, and these kinds of things – any of those individually you would need to get a full environmental impact statement.”

Kelcy Warren, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Access pipeline, told PBS on Wednesday the work was not being carried out on Native American property. “We’re on private land,” and the pipeline is “new steel pipe.”

“We’re boring underneath Lake Oahe. It’s going to go 90 feet to 150 feet below the lake’s surface,” Warren said. “It’s thick wall pipe, extra thick, by the way, more so than just the normal pipe that we lay.”

Kennedy, an environmental activist, author and attorney, disagrees. “The idea that this company is somehow complying with the law is just wrong. They are the law breakers here.”

At the same time, he expressed admiration for the protesters, who he said are “exercising their constitutional right to petition and protest.” He juxtaposed the “disciplined and peaceful” behavior of the protesters with that of the “law-breaking corporations,” and the “police power of the state” that has been deployed against them.

“The sad thing about this whole spectacle is that the police power of the state has been deployed. And when I say ‘police power,’ I mean an extremely violent, sophisticated military power with acoustic sound guns, pepper spray, tear gas and plastic bullets that are being fired into crowds. That is being deployed against a group on behalf of a law-breaking corporation."

Indian reservations

Kennedy went on to describe the mood among the estimated 300 Indian groups that have turned out to express their anger over the project.

“It’s the biggest convocation for 100 years of Indian nations… and there’s a profound recognition they’re doing something, not just for the native people, but they’re doing something that is critical for the American people and humanity that they are standing up to a carbon producer that is really going to contribute substantially to the destruction of the planet, civilization and humanity.”

According to Kennedy, the land the pipeline runs through is not actually on Indian reservation land; it’s a few feet away. But it’s part of the reservation that was part of the original Treaty of Laramie… and then they found gold in the Black Hills and they said, "We’re not going to pay attention to that anymore."

Kennedy then derided the argument that the pipeline is important for the United States because it will provide “energy independence.” In fact, he argued, the oil would go to other countries, like China, thus negating the “cost-benefit analysis” of the project.

“They would have to show how many jobs we are producing, where is the oil going (until recently, it was illegal to export crude oil), but they had that 40-year old law changed and this oil is going to China. What this project is going to do is enrich a few billionaires… but it’s going to impoverish the rest of the country. And it’s going to injure humanity profoundly."

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.