Since the first announcement of its construction in 2014, the North Dakota Pipeline has caused a growing protest movement among Native American tribes, environment activists and landowners. At first, I thought the protesting of this project seemed exceedingly non-proactive and a huge waste of time. However, as I extensively researched the pipeline, I concluded it is a very positive and essential project that is, sadly, being poorly executed.
The North Dakota Pipeline is a 1,172-mile project which runs from North Dakota to Illinois, cutting through South Dakota and Iowa along the way. According to Brookings, its purpose is to “carry nearly half a million barrels of crude oil daily — enough to make 374.3 million gallons of gasoline per day.”
Former means of transporting oil have not been resourceful because of reliance on expensive railroads and vehicular transportation. With crude oil extraction of North Dakota’s Bakken shale impressively increasing — more than one million barrels a day in 2014, compared to 309,000 in 2010 — a new means of transporting the oil is essential to economic stability and efficiency.
Building the pipeline has many positive outcomes. Job creation and financial improvements are two of the largest.
According to the official pipeline website, daplpipelinefacts.com, “the Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion investment that will create 8,000 to 12,000 local jobs during construction.” Economic benefits that will support local services such as schools include an estimated $55 million annually in property taxes. The pipeline will also cut expenses of railroad transportation and allow the oil to be transferred more safely with less cost.
The pipeline has many positive effects that will certainly benefit the regional area. However, the problem with this project, which I believe justifies the protesting, is the way in which it was approved.
Vox, an American advocacy news website, said federal officials approved the pipeline before consulting with the local tribe, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which lives a short distance south of the pipeline.
The federal government’s failure to consult with the tribe led to many of the pipeline’s potential negative impacts to be completely ignored. For example, The Washington Post writes that the pipeline will cross under the Missouri River, a major water source for the tribe. Concerns over the potential inflictions the pipeline could have over the water quality and river itself have been pushed under the rug by officials.
Native American tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, hold certain areas of land as sacred and valuable. The pipeline could also “disturb ancient sacred sites,” according to The Denver Post.
The North Dakota Pipeline is an exceedingly beneficial project that was not approved properly. America is supposed to be a place where voices are heard and minorities are not silenced. However, the government in this case silenced the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on concerns of the pipeline’s construction. The silenced minority are fighting back with persistence and passion, and it is being heard nationwide.