Controversy Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline By Zack Millicent

The Dakota Access Pipeline stretches nearly 1,200 miles through North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, and Iowa. It is a controversial issue that can easily be divided between two sides, those who are in favor of the economic advantages that the pipeline presents and those who view it as an environmental and social threat. Many of those who support the pipeline seek its economic gain as it makes the United States less dependent on foreign oil which in return drops oil prices. As a result of this, the pipeline will act as a helping hand in the funding of public services throughout the states in which it occupies. Furthermore, the pipeline will create “8,000 to 12,000 new jobs and pump money into industries that manufacture steel pipes and other related materials” (ProCon). The pipeline is also the most environmentally safe way to transport crude oil. This is because it runs underground rather than being transported by train. For these reasons, the pipeline exceeds many regulations in terms of safety. As such benefits may sound appealing, it’s important to take into consideration the drawbacks of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Although the pipeline may appear environmentally friendly, it could potentially prove to be extremely harmful in the long run. The use of underground transportation was supposed to help lessen the carbon footprint of the pipeline, but in reality the nature of the pipeline wasn’t as beneficial as intended. This is believed because the pipeline extracts oil from tar sands in Canada. The EPA recently released a statement addressing this, saying “extracting oil from the tar sands generates more greenhouse gases than extracting oil through more conventional methods and therefore contributes to a greater amount of greenhouse gas emissions over time” (Brady). This essentially negates any attempts by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create a more environmentally friendly pipeline. Additionally, as oil consumption around the world continues to rise, the Dakota Access Pipeline is a delayed “investment in more renewable technologies” (Brady). Going forward, the Dakota Access Pipeline is not the solution to our current energy problems. If anything, it only hurts the planet more and acts as a reason to find more environmentally safe ways of acquiring potential energy sources.

One of the main controversies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline is its close proximity to the Standing Rock Sioux. The pipeline runs directing under Lake Oahe and this poses as a threat to the tribe's water and sacred lands. A break in the pipeline would be devastating to the tribe as well as the wild life in the surrounding area. Such a disaster would affect the lives of those who live downstream from the lake as the damage would run rampant. Just the sheer possibility of such an occurrence is extremely alarming and the potential destruction must be worrisome for the Standing Rock Sioux. Although the pipeline does not directly intersect their land, the fact that the pipeline is so close to them has left many feeling in danger. Feelings are also further flaired by the relocation of the pipeline from Bismarck to within a close distance from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. All of this goes on top of the centuries of hardship Native Americans have faced throughout American history. Their lands continue to become smaller and smaller as they have been deprived of the resources in which they rely on. They also have to deal with policies and legislation in which they have very little say in. The Dakota Access Pipeline is a modern day example of how Native Americans have been mistreated by the American society.

Another drawback of the pipeline is the way the protesters have been treated. In addition to battling harsh weather conditions, protesters have faced rubber bullets, tear gas, and compression grenades. Many of these individuals are veterans, environmentalists, and members of the Standing Rock Sioux. The goal of these individuals is to protest the injustice and negative consequences of the pipeline. In today’s society the apparent discrimination of any sort of group of individuals is unacceptable. The Dakota Access Pipeline represents the mistreatment of Native Americans as their land continues to be put in jeopardy. The pipeline is a stepback socially and is not the correct decision for the United States going forward. Increased carbon emissions only contribute to global warming and the continuation of this project is a serious mistake by the Trump Administration. A country with the stature of the United States should be working towards making the future a cleaner one and the Dakota Access Pipeline is not the solution to today’s energy problems.

Works Cited:

Brady, Heather. "4 Key Impacts of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines."National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 14 Apr. 2017. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

"Dakota Access Pipeline: Top 3 Pros and Cons." ProConorg Headlines. N.p., 23 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

I decided to address young people for my intended audience. This group would consist of millennials and I chose this audience because I believe many of these issues resonate with our generation. I think this group is a great one to target because young people are not set in their ways and are still capable of changing their beliefs. This works well with this assignment because it gives me the opportunity to present my side of the argument. First of all, we are inheriting a planet that is need of our help and I think it’s important that we are all on the same page. Much of my argument is based around the environmental disadvantages of the Dakota Access Pipeline and I try to explain how the pipeline isn’t beneficial in the long run. I’m aware that there are individuals out there who don’t believe in climate change or global warming so I attempt to explain the social threat that the pipeline possesses. I believe our generation is significantly less racist than the previous ones and that we are much more accepting of different groups of people. For this reason I make sure to clarify the impact the pipeline has on Native Americans and how it’s morally wrong. In addition to this, I make sure to mention that the pipeline is a wasted opportunity in looking for other means of clean reusable energy. Even those who are in favor of the business aspects of this project would understand this point. Our planet doesn’t have unlimited resources and it’s important that we invest in ways that benefit ourselves and future generations.


Created with images by Fibonacci Blue - "Dakota Access Pipeline protesters against Donald Trump"

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