Recently, two women in Iowa publicly admitted to a months long campaign of violent action intended to slow down, or halt completely, progress of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Over the course of 8 months, these two women engaged in arson that destroyed heavy machinery, used oxyacetylene torches to cut through pipe, and claimed to use gas-soaked rags and burning tires to destroy electrical units and construction equipment. These violent attacks delayed construction for weeks, and are symptomatic of a much larger issue with violent attacks on our pipeline infrastructure.
The attacks on DAPL by the two Iowa women caused upwards of $2.5 million in damages, requiring weeks of repairs and entire sections of pipe to be replaced. On top of these damages, the two women came forward on their own, turning themselves in because they hoped to inspire others to commit similar acts of violent vandalism. This instance of ecoterrorism is emblematic of a larger, national problem of violence directed at pipelines, with projects all across the United States being targeted and attacked.
A number of different methods of these violent protests have been employed, with the most serious coming several months ago when a man used a high-powered rifle to damage the Sabal Trail Pipeline. While there were mixed reactions, a number of anti-pipeline groups treated him as a martyr. Protesters have also lodged themselves in pipelines, using numerous materials to prevent authorities from removing them. In many instances, this has damaged the interior lining of pipelines, forcing costly replacements for whole segments of pipe.
With vandalism, sabotage, and arson as a part of their playbook, pipeline vandals are putting themselves in danger, causing millions of dollars in damages to important infrastructure projects, and harming the American people. Pipelines help to move important natural resources across the country, benefiting economies and helping to lower energy costs – on top of putting America in a greater position on the international stage. The violent attacks cause nothing but harm, often damaging local environments. The GAIN coalition hopes to see such action stop, and that a genuine discourse is begun on how best to improve our energy infrastructure.