Two Environmental Activists Charged In Dangerous DAPL Protests

Federal prosecutors this week filed charges against two women who admitted to a series of acts of vandalism against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa more than two years ago.

Ruby Montoya and Jessica Reznicek are charged with conspiracy to damage an energy facility, as well as four counts of malicious use of fire and the use of fire to commit a felony. The charges stem from setting fire to machinery and using torches to cut steel valves on the pipeline.

The New York Times provides a useful look at the dangerous tactics the women employed:

The women started their campaign by burning pieces of heavy machinery at a construction site in Buena Vista County, Ms. Montoya said at the 2017 news conference.

Then they researched effective ways to pierce steel pipes, and in March, they went to Mahaska County and used “oxyacetylene cutting torches to pierce through exposed, empty steel valves, successfully delaying completion of the pipeline for weeks,” Ms. Reznicek said.

“We then returned to arsonry as a tactic,” Ms. Montoya said. “Using tires and gasoline-soaked rags, we burned multiple valve sites, their electrical units, as well as additional heavy equipment located on DAPL easements throughout Iowa, further halting construction.”

Finally, in May 2017, the women tried to damage a valve in Wapello County and “discovered oil was flowing through the pipe,” Ms. Reznicek said. “This was beyond disheartening to us, as well as to the nation at large.”

The federal charges filed this week come after the two faced minor charges in 2017. The women were arrested by Iowa troopers and charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief following their press conference after damaging a state sign outside the Iowa Utilities Board office.