Delaware with Standing Rock: Day of Action in Dover
A crowd assembled at Legislative Green Park in Dover on Nov. 15 in a peaceful protest to call upon citizens to stand in solidarity with the people of Standing Rock. Protesters marched in opposition against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the expansion of pipeline along the eastern shore.
On Nov. 2, the Chesapeake Utilities Corporation announced that The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company, Chesapeake Utilities’ interstate natural gas transmission subsidiary, has finalized plans of expanding the 442-mile natural gas pipeline, which currently carries fuel from multiple points in Delaware and Maryland. The expansion will add 23 miles of new pipeline that will run through Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland.
This protest is important for citizens to unite in opposition against the construction of Dakota Access and Eastern Shore pipelines that could have extremely detrimental environmental impacts.
Three Delawareans, Fe Echavarria of Wilmington, Billy Merrill of Bear and Dayna Crawmer of Harrington, united to organize this protest. Echavarria found about the pipeline movement in August and has been following it ever since. When she heard about the Nov. 15 event, she immediately contacted Merrill and Crawmer to join her in this fight.
“We are in an age of awakening and are called to be accountable — with that comes responsibility,” Merrill said. “It’s essential we educate ourselves on these issues, embrace those who share the same passions and empower the community to do the same.”
Merrill emphasized that we all need water, and there are viable alternatives to the dangerous fossil fuels that could potentially contaminate our water supply, such as solar and wind power.
Crawmer voiced her primary concerns for the pipeline construction. She explained the chance that the pipeline will leak fossil fuels into our water supply is extremely high.
The afternoon began with tribal blessings from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe of the Chesapeake Bay area. The crowd began their march to Legislative Hall at 2:45 pm. Members of the community carried signs reading “People over pipelines,” “Water is life” and “#NoDAPL.”
Raggi Rain from Dover, was one of many members of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribe to march. She asks others to stand and fight with the indigenous people, not just for her tribe, but for themselves and several generations to come.
“When we are looking at water we realize, most of us spent nine months before we were born in water,” Rain said. “When we are pushed into this world, we are coming through water. We as people know that water is life, water is medicine and water is healing.”
Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in 2017; however the Eastern Shore Natural Gas company is awaiting approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which could happen early as April 2017.
Echavarria suggested pulling money from banks who fund the pipeline construction as one way to take action. It is also essential that the community reach out to local legislators, senators and other government officials and vocalize concerns and opinions.
“Knowledge is power,” Echavarria said. “At some point it is going to affect you, whether you believe it or not. We need to ensure that our children have a healthy earth to live on.”