Women who vandalized Dakota Access pipeline charged on 9 counts

Women who vandalized Dakota Access pipeline charged on 9 counts
© Greg Nash

Two women have been charged by the Justice Department with attempting to damage the controversial Dakota Access pipeline in Iowa after attacking the oil pipeline with torches in 2017.

A press release Wednesday from the Justice Department announced nine charges each against Jessica Rae Reznicek and Ruby Katherine Montoya, including four counts of malicious use of fire, four counts of use of fire in the commission of a felony, and one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility.

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The two women admitted to attempting to damage the pipeline and nearby construction machinery at a news conference in 2017 shortly after their arrest, though they did not face charges at the time.

“Some may view these actions as violent, but be not mistaken,” Montoya said in July 2017, according to The New York Times. “We acted from our hearts and never threatened human life nor personal property. What we did do was fight a private corporation that has run rampantly across our country seizing land and polluting our nation’s water supply."

“Using tires and gasoline-soaked rags, we burned multiple valve sites, their electrical units, as well as additional heavy equipment located on DAPL [Dakota Access pipeline] easements throughout Iowa, further halting construction," she added, describing their actions.

If the women are convicted, some counts in the indictment carry mandatory minimum sentences of 10 years in prison, with the sentence jumping to 20 years for subsequent convictions.

A spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners, one of the companies involved with the pipeline, told the Times that the women's protest had crossed a line.

“We support the right we all have as Americans to lawfully express our opinions, regardless of who agrees with them,” said Vicki Granado. “However, when those actions cross the line and become unlawful, that becomes an issue for law enforcement and our legal system.”