By: Vanessa Torres
The Dakota Access Pipeline, a product of the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, is set to be 1,172 miles long. It is designed to carry crude oil from North Dakota to southern Illinois. Its construction commenced during late 2015 and is planned to be completed by late 2016. However, since its approval in early July there has been a public outcry-specifically from the Native American population within the region. According to activists, the pipeline intrudes on indigenous lands; it exposes their only water supply to contamination; the tribal community had no say in it; and it disturbs areas of cultural significance.
The pipeline is fixed to cross four states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is situated in North and South Dakota. Therefore, the pipeline would cross their territory, disturbing sacred lands and burial grounds. Furthermore, Natives are deeply concerned with the environmental impacts the pipeline would generate. Given that it would run under the Missouri River, which supplies the tribe’s drinking water, farmland and forests. A member of the Sierra Club, a North American environmental group, Michael Brune says, “It’s not a question if a pipeline will malfunction, but rather a question of when.” Oil is notoriously known for spilling and when that occurs it is detrimental to the environment surrounding it. The pipeline puts the community at risk of oil spills impacting surrounding ecosystems and the residents’ health.
However, according to the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, DAPL is a 3.7 billion dollar investment into the United States, creating 8,000–12,000 construction jobs and up to 40 permanent operating jobs. The company also argues that DAPL will be amongst the safest and technologically advanced pipelines in the world. Lastly, its route has supposedly been strategically placed as to avoid interference with any sacred Native American land. There are two sides to every issue and if the Sioux Tribe wishes to end this project they must take extensive measures.
In efforts of ending the construction of this pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has organized several protests, including blocking the construction site, petitions, and reaching out to others for help. Their resistance has gained the support of thousands to its site, including representatives of more than 200 other tribes. One of their biggest supporters, Senator Bernie Sanders has publically spoken out against DAPL through social media and a rally at the White House. He urged the Obama administration to review the proposal and permanently stop the project. His support is a major step in the right direction for the Sioux tribe, given his popularity in America because of his recent presidential campaign. Many of Sander’s supporters are now also supporting the end of this pipeline. The Sioux Tribe and other Native Americans are standing together to demand for justice, which is something their community has not done in a very long time.