The #NoDAPL Protesters Abandoned Hundreds of Cars and Now They’re an Ecological Threat

A camper walks through high winds during a blizzard inside the Oceti Sakowin Camp near Cannon Ball, N.D., Dec. 6, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

“There are roughly 200 vehicles down there at last count, ranging from cars and pickups to rental trucks,” George Kuntz, vice president of the North Dakota Towing Association, told Western Wire. “We’re going to have a very drastic situation trying to keep these vehicles from getting into the river – what everybody’s been trying to protect from day one.”

Kuntz has been working with federal, state, and local officials to help clean up the #NoDAPL protest camps. Over previous months the camps played host to thousands of activists called their by celebrities and professional organizers, but now that the big wigs have gone home they’ve left an awful mess behind.

A mess which threatens the very water they claim to be protecting.

It’s not like the abandoned cars specifically are some newly discovered problem. Governor Doug Burgum identified them as a problem in his State of the State address nearly two months ago. But moving these cars out is no simple procedure.

Not only are hundreds of activists still camped out – there have been dozens of arrests even within the last few weeks – but finding the people who own the cars can be tough.

“We continue to encourage people to leave and take their trash, waste and debris with them – including vehicles,” Capt. Ryan Hignight, a public affairs officer for the Corps, told Western Wire. “If they end up in the water, it’s not good.”

Officials can’t just trash the cars left behind. There is a process whereby the owner has to be given 90 days notice before the vehicle can be disposed of. Lawmakers are working on a bill to change that to 30 days, but it’s unclear whether that policy will be in place soon enough if it gets approval at all.

Spring weather is looming, and the melt off of the heavy snows we experienced this winter is likely going to flood the area of the camps.

“We continue to encourage people to leave and take their trash, waste and debris with them – including vehicles,” Capt. Ryan Hignight, a public affairs officer for the Corps, told Western Wire. “If they end up in the water, it’s not good.”

It’s not good at all. But where are the celebrities? Where are the professional activists? They created an almighty mess in the name of protecting the environment, and now they’re not around to help clean it up.

“You talk about wanting to protect the water, and yet not a lot of people are staying around to clean up what they started,” Morton County spokesman Rob Keller told Western Wire.

That, more than anything else, should be the headline story about the #NoDAPL movement right now.

The rank hypocrisy is nothing short of stunning.

The Corps has set a February 22 deadline for clearing the protesters off their land.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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