5 Reasons We Need to Keep Resisting Pipelines

by Diana Best

December 19, 2017

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in light of Energy Transfer Partner's legal attempt to intimidate and silence us. But the truth is, the resistance to pipelines is growing stronger by the day.

The Tiny House Warriors, a group of Indigenous Secwepemc people from Canada, were joined by renowned Canadian artists and allies, Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch in Vancouver. Together with volunteers and supporters, the group created hundreds of silk-screen banners and painted the third tiny house of 10 destined to be placed directly in the path of the Kinder Morgan tar sands oil pipeline. Amidst the art build action, a flash mob was also organized and took place in front of TD bank in downtown Vancouver.

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP)—the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline—has filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and others, in the wake of the powerful alliance of Indigenous communities and allies who stood up in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock. Meanwhile, pipeline companies are plowing ahead with their plans to build massive new pipelines from Canada’s tar sands and across North America, which threaten Indigenous rights, clean water, and the climate we all share.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, especially with ETP’s legal attempt to intimidate and silence us. But in fact, the resistance to pipelines is growing ever stronger. Here’s why:

1. They’re trying to silence us, so let’s shout louder.

ETP is trying to silence us—and that’s exactly why we need to keep raising our voice in opposition to these devastating projects. Because it means that the powerful movement against oil pipelines is getting to them. If they’re going to such extreme lengths to try and stop us from speaking out in protest of  these projects, it can only mean one thing: they’re scared of the power we have when we stand together, scared of the light we’re shining on their dirty plans, and scared of the truths we will reveal to decision-makers. But, crucially, we have to show them that we’re not going to bow to their intimidation tactics.

People march in support of the Standing Rock Nation at the City Center Plaza of San Francisco. The protest was one of many in a global day of action against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cancel the permit for the project.

This movement is bigger than any single pipeline or company. These issues are fundamental to the rights of people. It’s not just about the environment; fossil fuel pipelines threaten Indigenous sovereignty, human rights, drinking water, our communities, social justice, and the climate we all depend on. That’s why we need to keep resisting them and standing together.

2. Pipelines threaten Indigenous rights and sovereignty.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline since first learning about plans for the pipeline in 2014

Indigenous communities, both directly and indirectly, are threatened by pipeline construction on their land and traditional territory. Proposed pipelines like Keystone XL, Transmountain, and Bayou Bridge cross Indigenous communities and territories, sometimes without the necessary consent of local tribes and First Nations, breaching Tribes’ sovereignty and rights. These pipelines threaten water supplies, as well as sites of huge cultural importance. Indigenous communities have been on the frontlines of fighting pipelines construction—and many communities continue to resist the controversial pipelines even after they’re built, when they pose the greatest threat. We will continue to stand in solidarity with First Nations and tribes resisting massive fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

3. Pipelines are bad news for the planet.

Pipelines of course also pose a huge threat to the planet. It is well documented that pipelines regularly spill and cause other accidents. In the past decade alone, pipelines have already spilled over 34 million gallons of hazardous liquids just in the US and the Keystone 1 pipeline had a major spill just weeks ago. Several hundreds of miles long and winding their way across North America, these proposed new pipelines would run through countless lakes, rivers, aquifers, and waterways—a spill could irreversibly damage the land and drinking water that communities across the country depend on.

At a time of rapidly accelerating climate change, we just can’t afford to burn any more fossil fuels. Superstorms, droughts, and wildfires are already endangering people’s lives across the globe. As clean, renewable energy becomes cheaper and more widely available by the day, oil companies are desperate to lock in a few more years of profits at the planet and humanity’s expense. The faster we stop them, the better chance we have at a stable, fair, and peaceful future.

4. Pipelines are good for CEOs, not the average person.

Solar-powered Reverse Osmosis Plant

Renewable energy sources account for almost 20% of electrical generation in the U.S. during the first part of 2017.

Contrary to what oil companies would like you to believe, pipelines don’t actually contribute to long-term job stability because once construction is over, so are most of the jobs. On the other hand, the renewable energy sector is booming and thousands of new jobs and opportunities are created in the solar and wind industries every week.

Pipelines companies are desperately clinging onto a dying industry and oil executives clearly have a vested interest in keeping their pockets lined. On the other hand, small-scale run projects like community solar mean individuals and communities can increasingly manage their own energy production, saving money and taking the first steps at ending dependence on fossil fuels and teaching young people about renewables.

5. We’re already winning.

Fossil fuel companies know that their industry is dying out—that’s in part why ETP is resorting to such desperate measures. And while we still have a long way to go, the fight against pipelines has made some major progress. The resistance mounted by the Water Protectors at Standing Rock shone a global spotlight on the numerous threats that pipelines pose to Indigenous rights and the environment. Some major fossil fuel infrastructure projects, including pipelines, have already been canceled, public and political support for pipelines is falling, and major investors are starting to pull out of financing them. Meanwhile, Indigenous communities and allies are continuing to fight pipelines in the courts and on the ground.

So now is the time to step up the resistance: we won’t be silenced by ETP or any other fossil fuel corporation and will continue to stand up—even stronger and more united—against pipelines. You can take action here!


Diana Best

By Diana Best

Diana Best is a senior climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace USA, based in Denver, Colorado. She began working with Greenpeace in 2008 on federal climate legislation and has since worked on reforming federal fossil fuel leasing programs and fighting new infrastructure projects around the United States. She is currently leading Greenpeace’s “Hold the Line” work aimed at halting the political and social influence of the oil industry during Trump’s administration.

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