Dakota Access Pipeline will be filled Sunday, but protesters still hope to stop it

The Dakota Access Pipeline will be filled with oil on Sunday in preparation for its first oil deliveries next month. A spokesperson for Energy Transfer Partners tells the Des Moines Register, “We are very pleased to bring this important infrastructure project that benefits all Americans and our national economy into service on June 1.” But a small group of protesters in Iowa are still holding out hope the pipeline will be shut down by the Iowa Supreme Court.

“It’s disheartening to say the least,” said Glenn Williamson, a 41-year-old camp member from Sioux Falls, S.D., “but for some of us, it’s strengthening our resolve as well. We know we still need to be here and we are going to be as active, if not more, in the future.”

The campers, spread among 14 acres of tall prairie grass and thick woods, hold out hope that the Iowa Supreme Court will reverse the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision that granted Energy Transfer Partners’ eminent domain authority for the project.

Little Creek Camp in Iowa is just one of several small camps set up to keep the energy of the #NoDAPL protests going. But what are the campers (about 20 in Iowa) actually accomplishing? That’s a little vague. The whole effort reminds me a bit of the Occupy movement which also made camping an integral part of protests. The goal then, as now, is to show the world some kind of alternative lifestyle, one that doesn’t rely on big banks or, in this case, big oil.

“We can’t just fight. We can’t just resist,” said Matthew Gordon, a native of the Quad Cities who has been at Little Creek for two months. “We have to offer an alternative. We have an alternative here.”

That alternative means a different, more eco-friendly approach to living. At the camp, piles of broken eggshells and rotting potato peels serve as compost in the making for a small, burgeoning garden.

Let’s see how that works in the winter. I’m guessing the protesters will be happy to burn some propane if it gets cold. Frankly, some of the campers sound like they just don’t want to go back to their pre-protest lives. Glenn Williamson (quoted above) tells the Des Moines Register, “The work is never going to be done. I tried to go back into the real world, to sign that W-2 again, for about five weeks. I just couldn’t do it, and I’m not the only one.”

This plan of permanent protest camps didn’t work out too well for the Occupy movement. Amid stories of crime, violence, theft, vandalism and even rape those camps quickly wore out their welcome and were shut down. The #NoDAPL protesters could hardly do any worse.