Dear bloggies, I’ve been long-wanting to cover this issues which has been unfolding in North Dakota. It’s heavily tangled in emotion, involving economics and social justice. Or more simply, corporate America vs. Native America. The issue is the Dakota Access Pipeline. It's been all over social media, but peculiarly devoid from most mainstream news.
What’s the Issue?
The Dakota Access pipeline, if fully constructed, would run 1,100 miles from oil fields in northwest North Dakota to a refinery and port in Illinois. Although most of the pipeline would cross private land owned by Energy Transfer Partners, the project still needs U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approval as there are portions that cross federal waterways. Since April, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe along with hundreds of Native protestors have been demonstrating on tribal land near the Missouri River in opposition to the project. The gathering represents one of the largest Native protests in ages.
In July, following approval of the project, the Standing Rock Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps, alleging that the pipeline’s construction would destroy nearby sacred and burial sites. They also claimed it would contaminate the tribe’s drinking water if the pipeline ever leaked. The tribe sought a temporary injunction to halt construction. Sadly this attempt would be in vain as the court declined the request for an injunction. James Boasberg of the D.C. district court stated that federal law had been appropriately followed in approving the pipeline.
However, almost immediately following this devastating defeat last Friday the tribes won an enormous victory, at least temporarily, as the Obama administration made a surprise announcement that it would not permit the project to continue for the time being. The U.S. government has requested that the pipeline company “voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahe,” said a joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Army. The Army Corps will now “reconsider any of its previous decisions” regarding whether the pipeline adheres to federal law, especially concerning the National Environmental Policy Act, said the statement.
What are your thoughts on this issue? Does industry have the ethical right to build this pipeline, potentially threatening sacred sites of the Native Americans? Is this merely another egregious marginalization of the priorities of Native Americans? What about securing oil for the U.S. economy, how should this tie in? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave your comments below and we can get a discussion going. And if you’ve missed any of the action, here is a video clip filmed by Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman, who captured the heart of the demonstration. There is currently a warrant out for her arrest for trespassing during the demonstration, I might add. Do some of your own research too in order to learn more, and visit YouTube for more videos of the action!
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Doctor of Science
Environmental Health Science