An Arizona woman who sabotaged the Dakota Access pipeline and set fire to equipment to protest the controversial project was sentenced by a federal judge Thursday to six years in prison.
Ruby Katherine Montoya, 32, who used a cutting torch to damage the oil pipeline in Iowa in 2016 and destroyed equipment over the next year, was also ordered to pay $3.2 million in restitution, The Associated Press reported.
“The sentence imposed today demonstrates that any crime of domestic terrorism will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government,” U.S. Attorney Richard Westphal said in a statement.
Montoya, who conspired to damage an energy facility, worked with Jessica Reznicek to sabotage the pipeline and equipment used to work on it. In 2016, they torched a bulldozer and other heavy equipment in central Iowa, according to authorities. Reznicek was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2021 after pleading guilty to similar charges. That sentence was upheld on appeal in June.
Woman gets six years in prison for damaging Dakota Access pipeline https://t.co/BXdZpatrdJ
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) September 23, 2022
Native Americans and environmentalists fought the $3.8 billion, 1,170-mile pipeline, which was completed in 2017. The opposition was similar to that faced by the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Joe Biden ordered stopped shortly after taking office.
Opponents, most of whom are against fossil fuels of any kind, claimed the pipelines pose a danger of oil spills. Some landowners also opposed the use of eminent domain to build the Dakota Access pipeline, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe claimed it passed over sacred lands. Even though the pipeline has been operational for five years, opponents are still demanding that the Biden administration shut it down.
Pipeline proponents say moving oil via pipelines is safer than by rail, creates jobs and boosts U.S. domestic energy production at a time when fuel prices have spiked.
The Dakota Access pipeline starts in the Bakken Formation shale oil fields in North Dakota and carries up to 750,000 barrels of oil per day south through South Dakota and Iowa and to a terminal in Illinois.