The Dakota Access Pipeline is a proposed project that would allow for the transport of domestically produced light sweet crude oil over a distance of 1,172 miles. It is estimated to cost $3.7 billion and, because of its length, it will create up to 12,000 jobs. The pipeline will transport around 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from NorthWest, North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Our current form of transporting crude oil from the production areas in North Dakota to places such as the Midwest are by rail and truck. It would cost less to distribute oil because there would no longer be a need for truck drivers and train conductors, and, although ironic, overall carbon emissions would go down because of the pipeline.
Although there are clear benefits to having pipelines, such as lowered costs of transportation and lowered carbon emissions, there are negative impacts associated with the construction of a major pipeline. The pipeline runs through sacred burial sites just north of the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, home to the Sioux tribe. Although the pipeline is on government owned land, and not on the reservation, the Sioux argue that the government had taken that land away from them over 150 years ago. Additionally, people are worried of the possibility of the pipeline leaking as it runs directly under the Missouri river, a source of drinking water for many people on the reservation. This has led to environmental activists and people living on the Standing Rock reservation to protest the construction of the pipeline. While protests were peaceful at first, after police attempted to forcefully remove demonstrators from their site, shots were fired and a protester was arrested. Since that incident, protesters have blocked off roads and thrown debris at officers. Officers have been responding with excessive force, such as pepper spray, sound cannons, and rubber bullets. The demonstrators are clearly concerned about the impact this pipeline will have on their health and safety. I wouldn’t want to risk my drinking water being contaminated with crude oil, so why should they?
Although it is much more efficient to use a pipeline, its construction has the potential to seriously hurt the local populations and environment. Energy Transfer Partners, the oil company that proposed the construction of the pipeline, can afford to not have this pipeline and continue using rail and truck to transport crude oil to the Midwest. If they can avoid it, they should attempt to construct the pipeline so it doesn’t run under the Missouri River. If they avoid the Missouri River and Standing Rock reservation, I don’t see a problem with the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.