#NoDAPL Lawyers Say Pipeline Would “Spiritually Degrade” Water

A structure burns at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp after protesters set fires ahead of a mandatory evacuation. Photo via NDResponse.gov

With Energy Transfer Partners saying they could have oil flowing through the Dakota Access Pipeline in March it seems unlikely that the #NoDAPL activists can stop it despite their most recent legal maneuvering.

At a hearing today in Washington D.C. Judge James Boasberg said he’d rule by March 7 on a requested injunction blocking operation of the pipeline, and asked that the pipeline give him 48 hours notice before they plan to start pumping oil so that he could release his ruling.

But perhaps more noteworthy from the hearing is the absurdity of the latest legal argument against the pipeline. Judge Boasberg wondered how the pipeline is a threat to water when it will be buried underneath Lake Oahe. He noted that oil probably wouldn’t touch the water even if the line leaked.

The reply from the activists? The presence of the oil pipeline near the water is violation of religious rights, or something:

Boasberg on Tuesday questioned how the water could be harmed since the pipeline is being built under the Lake Oahe and oil would not likely touch the water in the event of a spill.

Nicole Ducheneaux, a lawyer for the tribes, said at the hearing that the pipeline would spiritually degrade the water on the Missouri River because of its presence and that would prevent tribes from carrying out ceremonies because other nearby water sources had been contaminated from decades of mining.

It’s a bit rich to have the #NoDAPL crowd invoking a spiritual connection to nature which is disrupted by industry given what they did to the land at the Oceti Sakowin camp. They left behind hundreds of dumpster loads of garbage and an amount of raw human sewage that required law enforcement to get hazardous material training before they moved in to clear the camp out.

But beyond that, it’s worth keeping in mind that there are already something like eight pipelines which cross the Missouri River upstream from the Lake Oahe reservoir. It’s not like the Dakota Access line is some bold new endeavor.

Supposing, though, that we buy into this idea that an oil pipeline crossing under a body of water is an affront to religious liberty, how in the world could we ever build another pipeline in this country? Let alone a rail crossing or highway bridge?

Maybe that’s really what these extremists want, but I don’t think our laws or common sense requires that we go along with such madness.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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