Protestors rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline project


by Chelsea Cabral, Staff Writer

In what looks like a follow up to the dispute surrounding the Keystone XL Pipeline, another proposed U.S. oil route is causing conversation to erupt.

The proposed $3.7 billion project is constructing 1,172 miles of 30-inch wide pipelines, stretching from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.

The pipeline project would in fact span through four states: North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, carrying 470,000 to potentially 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day.

Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas corporation Energy Transfer Partners, went public with the project in 2014 and received approval and final permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this past July.

According to Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline project is anticipated to directly impact the local and national labor force by creating 8,000-12,000 construction jobs and up to 40 permanent operating jobs.

The corporation mentions that it will also decrease the current use of rail and truck transportation to transfer oil to major U.S. markets supporting national demand.

These include refineries across the East Coast, the Middle East, and the Gulf Coast as well as decreasing reliance on foreign oil.

While the project outlines economic advantages, Dakota Pipeline has been met with some criticism concerning its likely harm to the environment and its influence on climate change.

Several Native American groups, whose lands and communities would be transgressed by the pipeline’s contact, are in the face of this opposition.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota is one native community whose land would be in the path of construction. They recently filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The tribe says that the pipeline “threatens our environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance.”

The pipeline, which would be built right underneath the Missouri River, worries opponents such as the Sioux who fear that if the pipe were to burst it could contaminate their water supply.

Protests have emerged throughout the past few weeks at the site of the project in North Dakota with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and members of other tribes assembling to stand together in opposition of the project.

Mathilde Bourgeon, a senior Political Science major, responds with: “Social activism is a part of the policy-making process, and it is a great tool for social reform. It enables the government and the elites in general to hear the voice of their citizens, and help them understand what is going on in society.”

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said he doesn’t support moving more crude oil from North Dakota.

“We’re not opposed to energy independence. We’re not opposed to economic development,” he says. “The problem we have—and this is a long history of problems that evolved over time—is where the federal government or corporations take advantage of indigenous lands and indigenous rights.”

Construction of the project has temporarily come to a halt near Lake Oahe in North Dakota and South Dakota while a U.S. appeals court considers requests from native tribes that say construction would desecrate sacred native land.

Dakota Access submitted a brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, stating that “even a temporary or limited injunction would have devastating long and short term impacts to the [Dakota Access Pipeline] project.”

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