Image Credits: John L. Mone/Associated Press
When logging onto Facebook today, I noticed many friends of mine who had checked in at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. I will admit I was confused. While I had briefly heard of the Dakota Access Pipeline, DAPL, I am not embarrassed to admit that I was not fully aware of the controversy surrounding the project. I felt like this was an opportunity to gather all of the information regarding the project and protests. I might even help someone else make an informed opinion regarding the matter.
The Dakota Access Pipeline:
When plans for the Dakota Access Pipeline were announced in 2014, they immediately gained opposition from environmental activities and indigenous people. It has more recently picked up national attention and is gaining larger support. The pipeline spans 1,172 miles that will connect production areas in North Dakota to Illinois while going through South Dakota and Indiana along the way. The Dakota Access Pipeline describes the project “…will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner.” To sum that up simply, rather than transporting the Baaken Crude Oil to U.S. markets (Midwest, East Coast, Gulf Coast) by rail or truck, the proposed pipeline will directly transport about 470,000 barrels per day.
Who is Protesting:
Part of the pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, which is the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The tribe had a reported population of 8,508 people in 2002. While the pipeline has vowed to meet or exceed state and federal safety requirements and implement an emergency shutdown system, experts are saying a leak is still very possible. This could damage the tribe’s primary water supply. Additionally, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is saying that construction of the pipeline will destroy sacred land including burial and prayer sites. Activists are saying that this is more than just protecting their water supply and sacred land, this is protecting the environment for years to come. The supporters are not just from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but from all over the world. People have traveled to stand in support of the efforts to block the construction of the DAPL.