U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign finally responded to the ongoing dispute over the Dakota Access pipeline Thursday – except she pretty much said nothing, refusing to take a firm stance on the controversial pipeline that Native American tribes say violates their sovereignty and threatens the Missouri River.
Faced with recent violent crackdowns and arrests, Native American groups have continually called on Clinton to speak out against the pipeline, yet Clinton remained vague on the issue. However, both the Green Party's presidential candidate, Jill Stein, and Clinton's Democratic primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders, have voiced clear opposition to the pipeline.
“It's important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators' rights to protest peacefully, and workers' rights to do their jobs safely,” Clinton's campaign stated in response to tribes protesting the pipeline.
The official campaign statement stressed that “all voices should be heard” and that all parties, government, private and protesters involved in the standoff “need to find a path forward that serves the broadest public interest.”
This fails to recognize that if Native American treaty rights and sovereignty have been violated, this has to be rectified first and foremost. Clinton also failed to address environmental concerns.
Native Americans and environmentalists have been protesting the US$3.8 billion for several months, saying that it will damage sacred burial grounds and pollute the local environment and water supplies. Protesters have continually called on Clinton to vocally oppose the pipeline.
“Now is the time for Hillary Clinton to prove her commitment to both strong climate action and Indigenous sovereignty. Silence is not acceptable. Waiting is not acceptable,” said Greenpeace spokesperson Lilian Molina.
“By refusing to stand against DAPL, Hillary is putting our environment, wildlife, culture, and land at risk,” said William Brownotter who, along with other Native American youth, traveled to Clinton's campaign headquarters in New York City.
Clinton’s statement came as clashes between peaceful protesters, law enforcement and security at the protest camps have intensified. Yesterday, more than 100 heavily-armed police officers from several regional police agencies used water cannons, pepper spray, and concussion grenades on protesters, arresting 141 protesters and injuring dozens.
Over the weekend, 126 protesters were arrested, with the Morton County Sheriff’s office admitting to using of tear gas.
In contrast to Clinton's equivocal response to the ongoing unrest, Senator Bernie Sanders' statement on the pipeline puts forward a much clearer perspective:
“The major global crisis facing our planet today is climate change. The vast majority of scientists tell us that climate change is real, it is caused by humans and it is already causing devastating problems. They say that if we do not aggressively transition our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy, the planet we leave our children will be a much less habitable place.
“Like the Keystone XL pipeline, which I opposed since day one, the Dakota Access fracked oil pipeline, will transport some of the dirtiest fuel on the planet. Regardless of the court’s decision, the Dakota Access pipeline must be stopped. As a nation, our job is to break our addiction to fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on oil. I join with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the many tribal nations fighting this dangerous pipeline.”