Victory! Activist groups succeed in shutting 3 major oil pipelines

The cancellation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dakota Access Pipeline, and Keystone XL Pipeline not only represents a major victory for the environment, but also for grassroots groups which spearheaded the opposition movement. Shutting down these pipelines demonstrates the effectiveness of community action from activists, volunteer residents, Tribal members, scientists, farmers and landowners, climate activists, and outdoor enthusiasts in protecting natural spaces and the health of residents. 

After years of protesting, advocacy, and legal action, a court ruling determined this week that developers of both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines had failed to properly assess the impact of the projects on the environment and endangered species. Dominion and Duke, developers of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline also announced plans for cancellation of that project this week. 

These results demonstrate not only the efficacy of activist action but also of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which protects natural spaces from development projects. 

Dr. Ryan Emanuel, an environmental scientist at North Carolina State University and a member of the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson County, is one of the instrumental activists in preventing the progression of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. He provided critical research proving that the project would have a disproportionate impact on 30,000 Native American residents living in the FERC-defined study area of the project. 

Chad Oba, a resident of Union Hill, Virginia, and community organizer helped found the Friends of Buckingham, which dedicated itself to defending Union Hill, Buckingham’s historically Black community, against the project. 

In last month’s Optimist View, we discussed how the effects of environmental degradation such as pollution, contamination, and habitat destruction disproportionately affect communities of color. These pipeline projects are examples of environmental destruction at the expense of marginalized communities. The termination of these pipelines is a victory for the planet as well as the environmentalists and activists who collaborated over the years to achieve justice.

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