One of the more seemingly recent controversies that has found it’s way into the media is the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline-- a pipeline that is projected to transport immense amounts of oil from North Dakota to Illinois. While this is just now beginning to gain traction and publicity, it has been an ongoing issue since its construction was announced in 2014. If built, the pipeline will lessen U.S. reliance on imported oil, as well as hastening the process of its transportation. More money will be made, and more jobs will be created. This all sounds wonderful, right?
Another aspect of the pipeline, and undeniably the largest reason for its controversial status, is that it crosses through the lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, a sizable Native American tribe, and is set to travel underneath the Little Missouri River-- their main water source. As pipelines have proven to be anything but foolproof, with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration finding over 11,000 total incidents pertaining to pipelines from 1996-2015, the concern of the Standing Rock Sioux and many others that have come to oppose the pipeline is highly understandable. Even with the greatest precautions taken, there is no guarantee that the pipeline will fail to leak. If this does occur, the results could be disastrous.
In addition to the water source being disrupted, there is also the issue of the pipeline passing through sacred burial ground. While protesters have remained peaceful in their method to protesting, sticking mainly to participating in prayer, the forces against them have grown increasingly violent, as dogs and mace have been used against them, along with an abundance of arrests.
The environmental impacts of constructing a pipeline such as the Dakota Access Pipeline should also be examined. It is sure to alter and affect the surrounding environment, in turn contributing to the growing issue of climate change. Instead of increasing our reliance on nonrenewable, harmful energy resources, we should be investing in clean, renewable alternatives.
A number of notable people, such as Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley, have used their celebrity status as a platform to broadcast the importance of this issue, with Woodley even being arrested for trespassing after her travel to Standing Rock. A growing amount of people are coming to the aid of the protestors, but many more are needed to show solidarity, as there is also a growth in arrests being made and tensions escalating.
Our government has a rich history in mistreating and cheating Native Americans, from their rights, to their land. Those who lie in the path of money and large corporations are typically given the short end of the stick. Still, in this day and age, with the increases in awareness over this heavy issue, it is far from too late to prevent further damages and hindrances from being committed against the Sioux.