A pipeline in the Midwest has caught the attention of the press and the people affected by it through a string of protests that have been happening since spring.
The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new pipeline, meant to carry 470,000 barrels of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to the state of Illinois daily.
Construction of the pipeline was granted in March 2016. Dakota Access, the company constructing the pipeline, hoping the pipeline would be constructed and running by the start of 2017, but the protesting by both Native Americans and environmental activists has halted construction.
President Obama met with tribal leaders earlier this week to hear their concerns about the pipeline, but no remarks were made after the meeting.
The pipeline will have capacity as high as 570,000 pounds, according to a website about the pipeline created by Energy Transfer.
The website also said the $3.7 million investment will create up to 12,000 construction jobs. Dakota Access said the pipeline would “bring significant economic benefits to the region.” According to CNN, Dakota Access also said pipelines were the safest, most cost-effective and responsible way to move crude oil between locations.
“Originally the pipeline was slated to go closer to Bismarck,” said Andrew Kear, an assistant professor at the University. He’s in both the political science and the environment and sustainability departments. “(It’s) an urban area, more affluent, and they thought that there would be more political opposition to a pipeline going closer to a heavily populated border of an urbanized area; rather than sending the pipeline towards a more rural, less populated—but nonetheless, land that’s close to Native Americans.”
Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice ruled that construction of the pipeline bordering a North Dakota lake would not continue.
At the end of April, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, along with the EPA, the Department of Interior and the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, sent separate letters to the Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency overseeing the pipeline. The three agencies called for the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environment Impact Statement.
The Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes have argued with federal judges that the Army Corps of Engineers did not properly assess the impact the pipeline could have on the cultural sites of the tribes and the effects an accidental spill could have. The tribe also argues the pipeline could affect the river, which could impact not only their only source of clean water, but could also impact the drinking water of 18 million other people.
Native American reservations have tribal sovereignty, which means that they are supposed to have jurisdiction of their own lands, without interference from state governments. The federal government handle issues pertaining to Native Americans.
In August, David Archambault II, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, wrote an opinion editorial for The New York Times. He writes the Dakota Access Pipeline has been “fast-tracked from Day 1, using the Nationwide Permit No. 12, which grants exemption from environmental reviews required by the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act by treating the pipeline as a series of small construction sites.”
Archambault also wrote that the Army Corps of Engineers dammed the Missouri River (the river the pipeline will be built under it) in 1958, taking away their natural resources and land in order to create Lake Oahe.
A judge also denied Standing Rock’s request to stop the pipeline earlier this month as well, which prompted the tribe to take their cause and statement all the way to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where David Archambault II spoke as part of a hearing on indigenous rights.
“While we have gone to the court in the United States our courts have failed to protect our sovereign rights, our sacred places and our water,” he said.
This article has been edited by the original author.
This article was originally published in the independent student publication, The BG News. You can find this version here.