Members of the Sioux Nation are protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, which is proposed to be built within a mile of the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota. The pipeline would pass beneath the Missouri River, the water supply for the Native Americans that live on the reservation.
This is not the first time controversy has erupted over a pipeline in the Dakotas. One research topic could look at past pipeline disasters in the U.S. or abroad.
Protecting the water supply
According to the Sioux Nation, there are two major issues involved with the creation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. First is the potential for leaks from the pipeline and what damage any leaks would do to the water supply for those Native Americans who live on the nearby reservation. Second, the construction and pathway of the pipeline will destroy burial grounds and sacred sites, according to the leaders of the reservation. One research topic to explore would be how well the U.S. government has honored promises of protection for sites sacred to the Sioux Nation and other Native Americans.
The residents of the Standing Rock Reservation are not the only ones unhappy with the proposed pipeline. According to “Dakota Access Pipeline Standoff: Mni Wiconi, Water is Life” written August 15, 2016, for Indian Country Today Media Network, the pipeline is “facing widespread opposition by a coalition of farmers, ranchers and environmental groups.” The report says these groups are also concerned about the effect the pipeline will have on the more than 200 rivers, creeks and tributaries it will cross. The Dakota Access Pipeline will transport thousands of barrels of fracked crude oil from the Bakken oil fields. Built, owned and operated by the Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline will cross four states.
Protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline
The Native Americans that call the Standing Rock Reservation home recently took their protest to the nation’s capital. Maria Rachal wrote, “Native Americans bring oil pipeline fight to Washington” August 6, 2016, for TheHill.com about their efforts.
She wrote, “Young people from the reservation ran a nearly 2,000-mile relay to Washington, D.C. to deliver a petition with over 160,000 signatures to the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).” Additionally, Sioux Nation tribal leaders met with USACE officials who recently approved all the permits to move forward with the pipeline. Meanwhile advocates gathered to protest on the steps of the Supreme Court and in front of the White House. Another research topic could examine the success of community protests such as the one the Sioux Nation has mounted.
Previous pipeline controversies
The furor surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline is not the first time communities have been upset by the construction of an oil pipeline. The section of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that did get constructed experienced an oil leak this past spring. The Canadian Press’s “Keystone Pipeline Reactivated at Low Pressure Following Spill in South Dakota” April 10, 2016, revealed that the leak let “over 63,000 litres of oil seep into a South Dakota field in Hutchinson County.”
This is the kind of leak and potential water supply damage that the Sioux Nation is concerned about with the Dakota Access Pipeline. Another research topic could go in depth on the controversy that surrounded the Keystone XL Pipeline and how that matter was resolved.
Do you think that the Dakota Access Pipeline is something that should move forward, or should the U.S. focus its efforts on funding more renewable types of energy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.