An overview of the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy
January 2, 2017
The Dakota Access Pipeline is 1172 miles long and 30 inches in diameter, enabling oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets directly. In doing so, it would extend under the Missouri River, possibly contaminating the water supply and disrupting sacred burial grounds to the Sioux Tribe living nearby. Many people also worry about the long term effects drilling for more fossil fuel would have on the environment.
“The fact of the matter is even if we try to use as much fossil fuel as we can, eventually it will run out,” substitute teacher Scott Urban said. “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”
Activists fought to prevent the section of the pipeline from being built in fear of the pipeline being hazardous to their water supply. The protesters called themselves the “water protectors,” and reportedly said that it only a matter of time until the pipeline breaks and contaminates their water supply. Not to mention, the construction would violate the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, which established Sioux territories.
“Since the Native Americans were there first, it would be okay for them to protest for pipelines not to be near their sacred grounds,” freshman Joshua Rodriguez said. “They have a right to keep whatever land that they earned.”
The protesters fought for months and won. On December 4th the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would look for an alternative route for the construction of the pipeline. The announcement came when the protesters received reinforcements of roughly two thousand veterans prepared to use themselves as human shields for the water protectors, causing the government to act.
Yet, the campers are not leaving and many plan to stay throughout the winter.There is concern that the decision to reroute will not be permanent. Donald Trump and his administration are in favor of the pipeline, and his presidency has the potential to reverse the progress.
“The protesters will come out in droves again if he attempts to do that,” Urban said. “They’ve shown that it’s not something they want, it’s not something they support.”
The Army Corps refused to grant the permit needed to build the section of the pipeline, however, a federal court could still rule in favor of it and force a permit to be composed. Alternatively, President Obama could declare the land near the river a National Monument to protect it, although he has made no indication of doing so.
Donald Trump told the Associated Press that he would review the situation. Meanwhile, the protesters will remain throughout the winter, a veteran in North Dakota told Vice that the water protectors will stay to make sure the pipe does not go in the ground. Thus, combatting a multi-billion dollar project.
“People should be left to do what they see fit for themselves,” Urban said. “That’s the most fundamental American value.”