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To Trump on Pipeline Permits (An Open Letter)

Photo from EcoWatch

To Mr. Trump,

I am opposed to the executive actions you signed on January 24, 2017 and your permit approval on March 24th, 2017 . These actions advanced the potentially disastrous and unjust Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

The United States has already proven negligent toward low-income marginalized communities of color. A contaminated water crisis, similar to the catastrophe in Flint, Michigan, a majority Black community with 41.2% of residents below the poverty line, is imminent if these pipelines are fully constructed. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their supporters have unyieldingly protested the construction of these pipelines because they will break treaties between the US and Native Tribes and hurt our environment. It is unjust to continue to treat already marginalized communities of color and our Earth with such callousness.

Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, lead attorney for the tribe, has condemned the “historic pattern of broken promises to Indian Tribes.” Instead of acknowledging these treaties and working with the tribe to ameliorate the impending disaster, you have totally denied the controversy of the decision amidst current protest. This decision is less indicative of a democratic presidency than it is of a tyranny concerned only with corporate rather than American interests. The tribe has expressed concern for the state of both their water supplies and the water supplies of 17 million people whose communities will also be impacted by this construction. If the pipelines malfunction, all of these people will have contaminated water. When American citizens go so far as to sacrifice their freedoms by facing arrests to protest their rights to safe water and clean land, it is your duty to acknowledge their unrest and try to find a solution for their grievances. As a young activist who has been a part of many protests for the acknowledgement of lawmakers and representatives, this disregard directly negates the faith I have in our democratic system. No American should feel the need to sacrifice his or her freedoms just for safe drinking water, but your citizens continue to commit to this sacrifice and are still protesting today.

The pipelines have not only promised to disrupt and potentially harm American citizens, but our crumpling environment as well. Already unfairly rerouted towards indigenous nations, the pipelines are inimical to the world’s interest in fighting against global warming/climate change. According to the US Fish and Wildlife service, the Dakota Access Pipeline is planned through the habitats of nine threatened, endangered, and candidate species. Climate activists have also opposed the construction because it will increase our reliance on fossil fuels. The American desire to protect capitalist ventures in fossil fuel will result in a even more rapid warming of our planet. This will easily exceed the two degree celsius limit (the average rise in global temperatures before catastrophe strikes) from the Copenhagen Accord in 2009. The Paris Climate Agreement stuck to this limit and, in 2016, NASA reported that we have likely already breached the two degree celsius limit. There are no enforcement mechanisms holding any of the countries to their voluntary sanctions. Americans must hold themselves to protect our planet because as fossil fuel emissions push that two degree limit, our sea levels rise and droughts increase in severity and number, eventually leading to an uninhabitable planet.

Please retract your executive actions that have disregarded our need to protect our marginalized communities and our environment.

In protest,

Quinn Williamson, 19

Concerned Student-Activist


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