$3.7 Billion Project
What's at stake?
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a project that would cross four states and change the landscape of US crude oil supply. There are two sides on how the results will effect the country:
- The results could cause an economic boom that will make the country more self-sufficient.
- It could result in an environmental disaster that will destroy sacred Native American lands and contaminate water supplies.
What is the Dakota Access Pipeline?
It starts in the Bakken Formation, an underground oil deposit, where Montana and North Dakota meet Canada. The 1,172 mile pipeline will stretch from North Dakota, southeast into South Dakota, Iowa, and end in Illinois.
According to the Us Geological Survey there is an estimated 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered oil. Once completed, the pipeline would shuttle 470,000 barrels of oil a day. Which is enough to make 347.3 million gallons of gasoline per day. From Illinois the oil can go to markets and refineries across the Midwest, East Coast, and Gulf Coast.
Who approved the project?
The US Army Corps of Engineers approved the project and granted final permits in July 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe then sued the Corps saying
The pipeline threatens the Tribe's environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe."
An advocacy group says the tribe's claims are untrue and the pipeline does not cross into the tribe's reservation.
What are the arguments?
Since the pipeline would have an economic boom, it would decrease U.S. reliance on foreign oil. The pipeline would also free up railways to transport crops and other commodities that is currently being taken over by crude oil cargos.
According to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe the construction for the pipeline will destroy burial sites, prayer sites, and culturally significant artifacts. The environmental concerns include possible contamination due to breaches and eventual greenhouse gas emissions.
The environmental impact
The developers say the pipeline would provide a safer, more environmentally friendly way of moving crude oil compared to other means of transportation, such as railways or trucks. Pipeline supporters bring up the 2013 disaster in Quebec, Canada, where a train that was carrying crude oil was derailed and destroyed downtown Lac-Megnatic.
Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said he doesn't support moving more crude oil from North Dakota and that Americans should look for more alternative and renewable resources of energy.
274,000+ online petitioners agree saying,
The Dakota Access pipeline would fuel climate change, cause untold damage to the environment, and significantly disturb sacred lands and the way of life for Native Americans in the upper Midwest"
People opposed are also worried what would happen if the pipeline, which would go under the Missouri River, ruptured and contaminated the water supply.
The Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now say that there are, "Already, 8 pipelines cross the Missouri River carrying hundreds of thousands of barrels of energy products everyday," They have backed the developer's claim that pipelines are a safe way of moving crude oil.
The economic impact
Energy Transfer Partners estimates the pipeline would bring around $156 million in sales and income taxes to state and local governments. The developers say it will add 8,000-12,000 construction jobs.
Archambault said his tribe will settle for nothing less than stopping the pipelines construction. He says,
We're not opposed to energy independence. We're not opposed to economic development. 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."
Protests have been taking place in North Dakota for months. On October 22, 2016 police say they arrested at least 141 protesters. Law enforcement officials spent six hours pushing back about 200 protesters from one area back to their main camp. Police shot bean bag rounds, pepper spray gas, and had a high-pitched siren go off to disperse the protesters.
According to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, in response, protesters lit debris and trash on fire near a bridge and threw Molotov cocktails at law enforcement. around 50 cars where towed away. many were either burned or in some way vandalized.
The Obama administration intervened, asking Energy Transfer Partners to "voluntarily" halt construction on all surrounding private land, pending a final environmental review by the Army Corps, the Justice Department, and the Interior Department. The developers rejected the request and resumed constriction within 48 hours.