We Stand with the Standing Rock Sioux

The 42,000 nurses of the New York State Nurses Association are honored to express our solidarity with the historic and courageous action of the Standing Rock Sioux to halt construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The pipeline is both symbolically and tangibly a threat to the health and safety of people who live in proximity to it. We are resolute in our belief that the pipeline is a threat to the public’s health.

NYSNA nurses have been taking a stand against explosive “bomb trains” which transport oil with the volatility of dynamite in unsuitable containers in our home state of New York, and we recognize that our campaign is connected to the campaign being waged in North Dakota, near Cannon Ball. After all, it is the very same Bakken Shale crude oil – highly flammable and dangerous - on those trains that is slated to flow through the Dakota Access pipeline. This Bakken Shale transport is a potential threat to the public’s health, an accident waiting to happen in the midst of a vulnerable population.

We are profoundly inspired by the show of unity on display in Cannon Ball. As Jon Eagle, Sr. of the Standing Rock Sioux has noted: “The last time the seven bands of the Lakota-Dakota-Nakota Nation stood together was at the Battle of the Greasy Grass, June 25, 1876.”

Yet, as we call on the federal government to respect tribal sovereignty and enjoin a corporation, Energy Transfer Partners, to cease construction of the pipeline, we also hear what the communities on the frontlines of the struggle against the pipeline stress time and again: the water system they are fighting to protect is not just a Midwestern water system. Nor is it a water system of the indigenous population of this continent. It is the one single water system that all earth’s inhabitants share.

One shared climate, one shared atmosphere, and one shared earth. As nurses we embrace this compelling unity that motivates our fight for climate justice. This year, and this summer in particular reminded us, once again, of the fundamental weather changes underway. It was the hottest summer ever recorded. According to the World Health Organization and numerous other public health entities, climate change is the greatest healthcare challenge of the 21st Century. In the same vein of our nation’s for-profit healthcare industry, the for-profit energy system preys upon the public’s health, harming the most vulnerable communities with abandon, creating enduring economic and healthcare crises. Energy systems must be publicly owned and controlled.

We need to take immediate and dramatic action toward a smart energy system based on renewable fuels—harnessing the sun and wind, which do not explode, do not contaminate vital aquifers, and do not threaten to make the earth inhospitable to human life. We recognize that imperative that we must transition from fossil fuels to renewables. We must demand that equivalent clean energy jobs be created for those workers displaced from fossil fuel and related industries.

We declare our support and admiration for the protesters at Cannon Ball and for your commitment to creating a sustainable, equitable future for all people.

We stand with you!