Brandon Ecoffey: Tribes continue battle against energy pipelines

Brandon Ecoffey

A note from the editor’s desk
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

Last week I expressed skepticism over TransCanada's initial reports that a leak in the Keystone had only spewed 187 gallons of crude in to a field in eastern South Dakota. The leak was spotted by a passerby who happened to notice that the soil was covered in oil. Prior to having located the leak, TransCanada released their estimate of oil spilled and proceeded to send armed guards and over 100 workers to find and clean up the spill.

The armed guards prevented anyone other than TransCanada from viewing the site. The combination of armed guards and an active "No-fly" zone issued by the FAA essentially locked the site down. Fast forward a week and we now know that close to 180,000 gallons were actually lost from the pipeline.

For close to a decade Lakota people have been prepared to lay their lives on the line to protect the water that sustains us. Throughout this time we have all said that it isn't a matter of "if" a pipeline will leak, it is a matter "when."

TransCanada has long bragged of their technology that would immediately alert them if there was a problem with a pipeline. Those safeguards failed last week further proving the point that this is not a one-time incident but part of a series of leaks that have happened before. This is actually the fifth leak in the pipe since 2010.

What if this would have happened closer to a major source of drinking water?

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Lakota people have stood strong by their efforts to protect water. It was our first medicine and we understand that without it --there cannot be life. Maybe this leak was a warning. Maybe this leak was a foreshadowing of what is to come. Either way this proves that the efforts to protect our lands cannot stop as they are part of a larger effort to save this planet from the dangers of climate change and corporate exploitation.

The front lines of this war are now on the borders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they are now resisting the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. It is time to join them in their efforts to protect our lands as corporate interests are again willing to endanger our water. As my Uncle Bryan Brewer said before "In the land of the Oglala our horses are ready".

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.)

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