Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is joining the fight against the construction of a pipeline through tribal lands in North Dakota.
The $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to carry North Dakota oil to a shipping point in Illinois is nearly complete.
Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline will be safe, but the Standing Rock Sioux tribe says the project threatens the drinking water on its nearby reservation as well as some American Indian cultural sites.
People from around the country have taken up the tribe’s cause, with thousands congregating at the protest camp.
Police have made nearly 575 arrests since August during clashes at the protesters’ main camp along the pipeline route in southern North Dakota and at protests in and around the state capital, Bismarck, about 50 miles to the north.
Gabbard released the following statement:
“I’m participating in the Dakota Access Pipeline protest because of the threat this project poses to water resources in four states serving millions of people. Whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contamination in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaii aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.
“Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. Obviously, we cannot survive without water, and once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there’s very little that can be done about it. It is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.
“Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has also had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years, more than any of its competitors.
“If my participation in this protest helps send one message, it is this: We must protect our fragile water resources for current and future generations.
“I hope President Obama will do the right thing and stop this pipeline project before water resources for millions are forever ruined.”