Dakota Access Pipeline: What the heck is going on?

For those of you who might have seen on social media the hashtag: #NoDapl and still don’t quite understand what the fuss is about, you’ve come to the right place.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is a new pipeline for crude oil that extends around 1,200 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. The purpose of the pipeline is to have a more efficient way of transporting the crude oil in North Dakota, in hopes of giving the U.S. another alternative to importing foreign oil. You may be wondering: What’s the problem? It seems like a great alternative energy source for the US that would create jobs and make the U.S. more self-sufficient. While I do agree that at first glance the pipeline doesn’t seem harmful, there are many more factors at work than one would think. For example, pipelines can break, and this pipeline goes directly under the Mississippi River and other smaller rivers: which can pollute the freshwater and have severe ecological repercussions. Is it likely to happen? Not necessarily, but it is concerning that more attention hasn’t been give to the possible consequences of such a far-reaching issue (it goes through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois).

Which brings me back to the #NoDapl- it is a hashtag used on social media for people to protest against the unfair ways in which Dakota Access has gone about constructing the pipeline. A major source of conflict is located outside of Bismarck, ND. Essentially what happened is that the people of Bismarck, ND decided that they did not want the oil pipeline near their source of drinking water, so instead Dakota Access decided to redirect the pipeline to right outside the Standing Rock Reservation. When the people of Standing Rock expressed their disapproval of the pipeline, similar to the people of Bismarck, nothing was done to respect their wishes and justifiable concerns. Hard to believe right? Well, here’s an excerpt from an article in the Bismarck Tribune chronicling this situation:

“An early proposal for the Dakota Access Pipeline called for the project to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck, but one reason that route was rejected was its potential threat to Bismarck’s water supply, documents show. Now a growing number of protesters are objecting to the oil pipeline’s Missouri River crossing a half-mile north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, which they argue could threaten the water supply for the tribe and other communities downstream.”

This has many implications: the primary and perhaps most disturbing one being why the voices of indigenous peoples are being ignored over their white counterparts, Bismarck being around 90 percent white and the reservation belonging to the Sioux tribe. Not to mention that the pipeline cuts through ancient burial grounds of the Sioux people, but that issue will be more deeply probed in the next issue of the Lorian where there will be a closer examination of the actual protests going on at Standing Rock.

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