The Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.7 billion, 1,172-mile-long oil pipeline between North Dakota and Illinois broke ground just over seven months ago. Over the course of those seven months thousands upon thousands have gathered in protest of the large project. In fact, many celebrities have also expressed outrage towards the fracking and oil companies. The most important part of this subject is the Native American people, who’s land and homes are either being taken away or put in jeopardy with the dangerous risks involved. With the pressure and the threats from the Army Corps of Engineers to leave, protestors have vowed to stay in even in bone chilling conditions.
The two sides of this debate both have justifiable reasons. The side I would like to discuss first is the big name oil companies side. Why you may ask? Well, because it is short and sweet with not much to it. The pipeline claims to be a more direct and cost effective way of transporting sweet crude oil across the U.S. in a timely manner. The DAPL will replace most of the truck and train transporting of the crude oil due to the amount that can be transported in a shorter amount of time. Another advantage of building the DAPL is the abundance of jobs that will come from it. There is a lot of work that goes into a pipeline, not just the actual building of it but also the maintenance of the whole structure. A pipeline is like a ticking time bomb, it could leak at any moment. The companies installing the DAPL are using the most advanced technology possible in order to assure the safety of the people.
With this being said there are many drawbacks to installing such an enormous project. Many disadvantages include ruining sacred lands, disturb burial grounds, and possible contamination of the community’s drinking water. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has claimed time and time again that building this pipeline would negatively impact sacred lands and burial grounds. The tribe has been located in this part of the region for quite some time and have had many ancestors buried near their reservation. According to the Huffington Post, “it is required by law, under the National Environmental Policy Act, that companies must undergo an environmental impact statement that looks at the impacts and alternatives and so forth before they are allowed to move forward.” So, if this is the case, the oil companies should be unable to continue on with the process due to the risks that are involved with building under the Missouri River, which is the source of drinking water for thousands of people.
Pipeline spills are not uncommon, in fact, you only hear about a fraction of the spills on the news. Spills happen all of the time, they may not always be a huge problem but it still happens, for example, the Keystone XL pipeline was supposed to be the safest pipeline ever built, however, it spilled 12 times over the course of its first year. According to The Huffington Post, unfortunately, “it is easier for the industry to build these (pipelines) without significant opposition in places where there are lower-income communities.” Hearing this makes me think what the world has come to, these people are human beings just like you and I, they deserve safety and peace just as much as everyone else, it’s not always about the money. Another disadvantage that the Native American people can use against the big companies is climate change. With the extraction of fossil fuels it contributes to the massive amounts of carbon emissions release in our atmosphere on a daily basis. If we continue to extract and transport crude oil, our world around us will slowly begin to suffer.
Of the many sources that were taken into consideration such as NBC news, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times, almost all came down to quoting the Native people and showing how upset they are about the situation but never really show sympathy towards them. There is no emotion from the news companies or reporters themselves, many staff writers sway more towards being against the pipeline because of the effects it has but seem to just be reporting it without including there sympathy. However, the protestors were defended in most cases, and the “ruining of sacred and burial grounds,” was always a major highlight. For example, in an article from The New York Times, it states, “For the Standing Rock Sioux, the battle against the pipeline is not just about safe water-it’s also about respecting sacred ancestral lands and burial grounds, what what they considerer “unneeded territory.” Since the year 2006 North Dakota has been subject to an energy boom revolving around oil, since then some residents have been left with wells on their own land without receiving compensation. I would also like to point out that reporting on the police surveillance throughout this process is inconsistent. For example, according to Newsweek, “some news reports claimed that activists had set fires and that the police were simply trying to extinguish them.” While this was the common report, it is hardly the truth. According to first hand accounts, police in riot gear were firing water cannons, along with tear gas, rubber bullets, and concussion grenades, to keep the protestors from crossing the bridge.
This whole situation is unethical and unnecessary, and even if the pipeline leaks it still holds troubling implications. Originally the DAPL was supposed to run further north, close to the town of Bismarck, North Dakota. The route was later changed after the Army Corps of Engineers determined that was a “high consequence area.” The construction was finally put to a halt after the last segment was not cleared for further development. An assistant secretary for the civil works explained, “the best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.” As this news was released the protestors were brought to tears and filled with joy with this win.
Kate Harris. “Battle Over and Oil Pipeline.” Nov. 30, 2016. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/30/learning/lesson-plans/battle-over-an-oil-pipeline-teaching-about-the-standing-rock-sioux-protests.html?_r=0
Phil McCausland. “Dakota Pipeline Protestors Vow to Stay Despite Army Corps’ Order.” Nov 27, 2016. NBC News. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/dakota-pipeline-protests/army-corps-engineers-orders-dakota-pipeline-protesters-abandon-camp-n688476
Derek Hawkins. “Police defend use of water cannons on Dakota Access protestors in freezing weather.” Nov. 21, 2016. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/21/police-citing-ongoing-riot-use-water-cannons-on-dakota-access-protesters-in-freezing-weather/?utm_term=.93ea0ea3b54b
Reuters. “Sense of Duty Draw U.S. Veterans to Dakota Pipeline Protest.” Dec. 4, 2016. Fortune.http://fortune.com/2016/12/04/veterans-dapl-protest/
Michael Bennett Cohn. “Dakota Access Pipeline Standing Rock Standoff:Behind the front lines.” Nov. 28, 2016. Newsweek. http://www.newsweek.com/2016/12/09/dakota-access-pipeline-protest-standing-rock-sioux-525894.html
Ralph Ellis. “Standing Rock Protestors Ordered Out.” Nov. 28, 2016. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/25/us/dakota-pipeline-access-army-corps/
Joseph Erbentraut. “The Dakota Access Pipeline is an Example of a Much Bigger Problem.” Sep. 19, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dakota-access-pipeline-protests-water_us_57d85a51e4b0aa4b722d12b1
Nathan Rott and Eyder Peralta. “After Dakota Access Pipeline Protests, Army Corps Blocks Final Permit, Will Explore Other Routes.” NPR. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/12/04/504354503/army-corps-denies-easement-for-dakota-access-pipeline-says-tribal-organization
Associated Press. “Next test for pipeline protestors: The brutal North Dakota winter.” Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-dapl-north-dakota-winter-20161202-story.html