The View from Standing Rock
Posted on December 20, 2016
The months-long protest encampment at Standing Rock yielded a temporary victory earlier this month, when the Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline's final stage, crossing Lake Oahe just a mile upriver from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. The environmental impact assessment called for by the Corps will hopefully provide fuller protection of this tribe's primary water source from a possible oil spill. Beyond that gain, a new alliance has been forged between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples who are committed to pursuing a post-fossil-fuel future.
Within a number of Native American communities, the transition to renewable energy resources like solar and wind is far from simple given a decades-long reliance on coal mining and coal power plant operations for jobs and tribal revenues. With the advent of a Trump presidency, further uncertainty lies in the unknown fate of key federal programs supporting alternatives to fossil fuels. I explore these dynamics in an op-ed that appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.