Enbridge’s big buy-in is unsurprising to knowledgeable environmental researchers and activists. In February, a coalition of leading environmental groups produced a report showing that the company has been carefully patching together a massive pipeline network across the Great Lakes region. Enbridge wants to boost the volume of tar sands crude flowing through its pipeline system—collectively known as “Enbridge GXL”—to more than 1 million barrels a day. That is considerably more than what was expected from Keystone XL. The report, titled “Enbridge Over Troubled Waters,” finds that the Canadian firm has worked behind closed doors with government regulators to dodge the kind of open public environmental review that undid Keystone XL. The study also highlights Enbridge’s terrible environmental record, noting that the company was responsible for the largest inland pipeline disaster in U.S. history—a July 2010 spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Enbridge pipelines caused more than 800 spills in the U.S. and Canada between 1999 and 2010, pouring nearly 7 million gallons of oil into North American woodlands, fields and waterways. Enbridge is coming off a major defeat at the hands of Native American and other activists who mounted a successful four-year campaign to block the company’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline in Minnesota. The firm is turning to the Bakken project as an “alternate route.” Following the business press, one might conclude that the project’s completion is a slam dunk. A report in Bloomberg Business News three weeks ago reported that in the judgment of the paper’s “intelligence analyst” Michael Kay, “The Bakken Pipeline System is under construction and expected online by the end of 2016.” Bloomberg thought it was a done deal. But it’s not, thanks in no small part to popular opposition and struggle beneath and beyond the quadrennial electoral extravaganzas that pass for the only politics that matter in the U.S. Out-of-state pipeline workers report that “people around here hate us” in Iowa. In two central counties, arsonists have damaged $1 million worth of Dakota Access equipment (bulldozers and backhoes). Edward Abbey and his “monkey wrench gang” would have approved. A central Iowa county sheriff arrested a 63-year-old Fort Dodge military veteran named Homer Martz on the charge of “desecrating the American flag.” Martz had hung the flag upside down on a flagpole outside his home, underneath a Chinese flag. He put up a sign that read: “In China there is no freedom, no due process. In Iowa? In America?” Martz told the Fort Dodge Messenger that he did this as a protest because of his frustration over “having no say in the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline near the well that serves as the drinking water source for his home.” (The charge against Martz was dropped because it was based on a law ruled unconstitutional two years ago.) Wednesday, the normally staid editorial board of the state’s leading paper, The Des Moines Register, defended Martz’s action for “rais[ing] a valid point about infringement on liberties.” The paper said that the proposed pipeline was “creating legitimate fears about oil spills, ruined farmland and contaminated water.” It noted that “like many Americans, Iowans don’t take kindly to their land being seized or jeopardized.” Legal Resistance Fifteen of those landowning Iowans have filed a lawsuit against the IUB’s eminent domain authority; hearings began Friday at Polk County District Court in Des Moines. The suit challenges the spurious “public utility” claims behind the agency’s decision and could result in the suspension of the project statewide. The project also faces legal challenges in North Dakota. On Thursday, Dakota Access agreed to halt construction on the western side of the Missouri River in southern North Dakota until a federal court hearing in Washington this week. The partial and “temporary” (according to the company) shutdown follows months of protests and growing tensions over the company’s attempt to drill beneath the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, which straddles the border between North Dakota and South Dakota. Iowa’s leading anti-Bakken activists have been playing by the official rules. They’ve gone through all available official procedures and appeals. They’ve written and delivered carefully worded petitions and given polite, fact-filled testimony to all the relevant, corporate-captive regulatory bodies. They’ve met and communicated with the Army Corps and numerous other relevant federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. They’ve sued in court, defending farmers’ traditional American-as-apple-pie private property rights. Along the way they’ve caucused for Sanders (who denounced the pipeline in some of his Iowa speeches and ads) and reached out to Hillary Clinton, who switched from pro- to anti-Keystone pipeline for campaign purposes (but who nonetheless cozies up to leading fracking companies) after leaving her position as secretary of state. They hand residents fliers asking them to call the White House and give President Obama this message: “This is the new Keystone XL. You can stop this pipeline. You must stop this pipeline.” Still, the environmental necessity of stopping the project and the possibility that playing by the rules will be to no avail have convinced Iowa activists that they also need to plan significant acts of civil disobedience. And here they are taking notes on the struggle and tactics of Native American comrades to their north and the long history of the success of civil disobedience in forcing social and political change. Your support matters…

Independent journalism is under threat and overshadowed by heavily funded mainstream media.

You can help level the playing field. Become a member.

Your tax-deductible contribution keeps us digging beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that unearths what's really happening- without compromise.

Give today to support our courageous, independent journalists.