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  • Cleanup after Energy Transfer Partners spilled 2 million gallons of drilling lubricant.

    Cleanup after Energy Transfer Partners spilled 2 million gallons of drilling lubricant. | Photo: Ohio EPA

Last month, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline spilled 2 million gallons of drilling lubricant into Ohio wetlands.

Energy Transfer Partners, ETP, the infamous Texas company responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL, has been blocked by federal regulators from undertaking any new drilling projects on an Ohio natural gas pipeline.

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The measure, announced by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, came into force Wednesday, almost a month after ETP spilled 2 million gallons of drilling lubricant into wetlands. Now the company must address environmental concerns before it resumes its US$4.2 billion dollar project.

Ohio's Energy Protection Agency, EPA, announced that it will consider fining ETP after the company completes its cleanup efforts.

ETP faces fines of up to US$10,000 daily for each violation and, according to The Columbus Dispatch, the company received a US$431,000 fine on May 4 related to a series of Rover pipeline related infractions throughout Ohio.

James Lee, Ohio's EPA spokesperson, said that “the action taken on Wednesday by the FERC is a step in the right direction,” adding that the spill could kill fish and plants in the region. The agency concluded that the spill covered some 500,000 square feet and was caused by excessive pressure during drilling. 

Meanwhile, Jenn Miller, director of the Sierra Club of Ohio, warned that one-third of Ohio's endangered species rely on wetlands for habitat and survival.

Rover pipeline's promise of more jobs in traditionally-conservative Ohio, a state where more than 112,000 workers lost their jobs in 2015, was well received by residents. However, a growing number of people are rallying against the idea of a pipeline running through their backyards. This public awareness is mainly the result of Indigenous resistance at Standing Rock.

According to Indian Country Today, tribal objections to the DAPL project near the Standing Rock Reservation spurred an unprecedented global social movement resisting pipelines and the emblematic reliance on fossil fuels.

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From April 2016 until February 2017, the Standing Rock Sioux and Indigenous peoples from across North America led a resistance against the construction of the DAPL, a pipeline that went through the heart of an Indigenous burial ground and sacred land.

“The events at Standing Rock helped build public awareness about the corporate power behind pipelines that often disregards community and environmental safety,” said Guy Jones, a Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Reservation.

“I've been saying for a long time that Standing Rock is more than a place. It's a spiritual awakening for people to care for our land and our water,” he added.

Indigenous people have also warned that the construction of DAPL would contaminate the Missouri River. Hence, Indigenous women leading the resistance against the insatiable appetite of oil companies and their pipelines began calling themselves “water protectors.”

Joy Braun, a Cheyenne River Lakota and one of the main organizers of the water protector camp, stated that the intent of Standing Rock was for people to spread the message, “Mni Wiconi” (Water is Life) beyond North Dakota and the United States.

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