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  • A group from the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation at the protest camp on the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

    A group from the Saginaw Chippewa Reservation at the protest camp on the Missouri River on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. | Photo: Reuters

With a looming pro-pipeline Trump presidency and laws trying to criminalize peaceful protest, the petition has a real sense of urgency.

A new petition from Standing Rock is turning to the masses to pressure the Army Corps of Engineers to officially begin the Environmental Impact Statement process before Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

“On December 5, I announced to the world that the US Army Corps would not grant the the final easement necessary for the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline. You made that happen,” the petition, penned by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chief Dave Archambault II, opens.

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That decision, however, was underpinned by a condition that the Army Corps of Engineers would then officially seek and perform an Environmental Impact Statement.

The EIS is a more thorough and in-depth evaluation of the risks of building the pipeline either under or close to Lake Oahe, the water supply the demonstrators have been protecting since April 2016, a federally dammed stretch of the Missouri River.

“A month later, the Army Corps has still not taken this critical first step,” the petition, published on The Indigenous Peoples News, reads. It therefore seeks the same mass support there was at the protests sites to pressure the government into action – this time with signatures.

In order to help cement the decision to halt the pipeline while the EIS occurs, the ACE has to issue an official notice of intent with the Federal Register. The EIS process could take years and is, of course, expected to show the risks of the project in order to terminally kill it.

This means that by officially beginning the process before Trump slithers into power, it would make “it harder for a new administration to reverse,” according to the petition.

Trump has proclaimed his support for this and other pipeline projects, and for the general extraction sector in general. And in the senate, a major supporter for the Dakota Access pipeline has been elected as well, making this incoming government a serious foe to water protectors and demonstrators.

Moreover, a law is being circulated in the senate proposing to label water protectors – and anyone who funds them – as “economic terrorists,” and charging them with a class-C felony. A class C felony carries less than 25 years but 10 or more years maximum prison sentence and a $250,00 fine.

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But another petition is already on top of it as it asks people to pressure Virginia Sen. Bernie Sanders to “organize in Congress to stop” the bill.

Chief Dave Archambault II, author of the first petition, ends his plea in a note of urgency.

“Time is running out,” he concludes, alluding to the soon-to-be calamitous arrival of Trump.

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