The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would transport crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, running through South Dakota and Iowa. A project of the company Energy Transfer, the 1,168-mile long pipeline is estimated to cost $3.8 billion. The DAPL will cross through rivers, lakes, roads, and farmland. Energy Transfer claims they are the largest pipeline company in the United States, and that pipelines are the safest form of transportation for fossil fuels, however, their pipelines are not without problem.
The construction of this pipeline, like any other, is going to disrupt the environment around it: restricting use on agricultural lands during construction, running under and through rivers, lakes, and wetlands, and invading neighborhoods. The pipeline will not only cross the Missouri River, one of the largest drinking water resources, but it will run less than a mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation. With this close proximity, if the pipeline were to break or leak it would spill into this river contaminating drinking water for thousands of people and would directly impact the people of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. According to Energy Transfer’s website, they have “taken into consideration every aspect of the land in order to mitigate any risks.” However, in placing the pipeline so close to a drinking source, there seems to be no consideration for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. This pipeline speaks to the bigger issue of the ways in which this country continues to exploit Native lands, taking over what little they have left from the colonization of this country.
Recently, a petition was written by the 13-year-old Anna Lee Rain Yellowhammer of the Standing Rock Youth sparking a campaign against the DAPL. A video for the campaign was made by the Standing Rock Youth asking for the company to “respect [their] water.” The campaign is mainly driven on the basis of protecting drinking water and protecting “this sacred land.” Other celebrities are bringing attention the pipeline opposition including actor and activist Leonardo DiCaprio, and several stars from the upcoming Justice League film, Ezra Miller, Jason Mamoa, and Ray Fisher. The attention to this campaign brings hope that Energy Transfer may just have to listen to the demands of the people of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.
As of May 24, workers have already started to clear the path for the North Dakota section of the pipeline even though not all permits have yet been granted. Specifically, Energy Transfer is still waiting for approval for a permit to allow the pipeline to cross waterways. Energy Transfer is confident that they will acquire all permits for the project. Though Energy Transfer’s website may have some reassuring messages, there is nothing legally binding them to their promises to protect ‘sensitive areas’ in the environment where the pipeline is to be constructed.
Like many other pipeline projects, the DAPL would help move America toward energy independence; however, it is still a dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel. America can find energy independence in other outlets of renewable energy without endangering people or the environment.
Learn about the issues and sign the petition on the Rezpect our Water website.
Watch the video about the petition made by the Standing Rock Youth.