City Votes to Stand with Standing Rock, Review Its Own Oil Impact

Dec. 7, 2016 / By

Although construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was halted on Sunday, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to officially stand with the protesters, or water protectors, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota who strongly oppose the over 1,100-mile long pipeline — a project that tribal leaders worry poses contamination risks for that region’s water supply.

In a move of solidarity, over 30 Long Beach organization members, including those from the Sierra Club, Protectors of Earth Mother, and Changing Spirits, filled the council chamber to voice that the fight is not over.

“It’s still important to say that Long Beach supports [water protectors] because [the pipeline] is still under review… they’re going to halt it to reroute it,” said Sandra Acosta, an organizer of Tuesday’s lobbying efforts and Long Beach resident.

The local resolution now heads to the city attorney who will shape language to proclaim the City of Long Beach’s opposition to pipeline construction near the Sioux Tribe’s sacred sites and waters.

Community leaders had gathered around tribal song and prayer outside city hall to express disdain for the pipeline project. Upon a push from the Long Beach community to examine its own environmental impact, the city council also voted to request reports on oil and gas operations to see if any environmental regulations have been violated.

Cheyenne Phoenix, a Liberal Arts Campus Cultural Affairs chair at Long Beach City College who spoke to the city council Tuesday night, said the controversy surrounding the pipeline prompted a local review.

“As a native person, we need to make sure that we speak up about those things,” said the half Navajo and Northern Paiute. “It should be the number one concern.”

Local environmentalists agree, many supposing environmental violations are likely since Long Beach has engaged in hydraulic fracturing for decades, according to an investigation by OC Weekly.

“As long as we have an extraction-based economy, we’ll continue fighting this battle for indigenous rights,” said Elliot Gonzales, who serves on Long Beach’s Sustainable City Commission.

“I think it’s really time for us to really shift the paradigm to create an economy that works for everybody and recognizes human rights,” he said.

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Crystal Niebla

Crystal was raised in South Los Angeles and is the first college graduate in her family. She is a class of 2016 CSULB graduate who has served as an editor for her campus newspaper and freelanced for the Long Beach Post and Random Length News. Crystal is now a Report for America corps member, covering the Westside for the Long Beach Post. Follow her work @crystalniebla on Twitter and @crystalniebla_media on Instagram.