Why the American people should all stand with Standing Rock


Photo courtesy of Youtube

A protest to fight against the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Kaitlyn Riggio, Reporter

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL)  is a 1,100 mile-long pipeline that would stretch from North Dakota to Illinois (x). It is designed to transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from Bakken Shale in North Dakota to consumer markets on the Gulf Coast, East Coast, and in the Midwest (x). The proposal for the project has sparked protests mainly from the people of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe with the claim that the pipeline would “threaten the Tribe’s environmental and economic well-being, and would damage and destroy sites of great historic, religious, and cultural significance to the Tribe” (x). The Dakota Access Pipeline should not be built because the possible risks that come with it outweigh the possible benefits.

There’s no question that there are some good things that would come out of the DAPL being built. It is estimated that the pipeline would bring in around $156 million to state and local governments through sales and income taxes. There would also be between 8,000 and 12,000 construction jobs created (x). The pipeline is also the safest way to transport crude oil, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (x).

But there are also a number of drawbacks that would come with constructing the pipeline. Environmental activists have spoken out against the DAPL. They claim that the building of the pipeline would contribute to climate change by building up the country’s oil infrastructure and that fossil fuels should be left in the ground as a way to remedy climate change (x).

The pipeline would travel underneath the Missouri River, which serves as the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Even though the builders of the pipeline insist a disaster is unlikely, opponents are still skeptical, with good reason. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), there have been over 3,300 incidents of oil and gas pipelines rupturing since 2010. Even the smallest accident could lead to a monumental problem for the Standing Rock Sioux (x).

There is also concern that building the pipeline would destroy sacred and cultural burial sites. Native American reservations hold significant cultural value to many people, and the area near the route of the DAPL is no different. A survey in September showed that the route of the pipeline goes through multiple graves and other historical sites (x). The building of the pipeline near these sites would be extremely disrespectful to the people that live there. These historical sites are some of the main reasons for the protests against the building of the pipeline, and all of them are valid. Could you imagine the outrage if there was proposal for a pipeline near Arlington National Cemetery or another area of great American cultural significance? When you look at it from that perspective, it’s easier to see why people are so upset.

Even though there might be some benefits that would come out of it, the Dakota Access Pipeline should not be built. In this situation, the cons greatly outweigh the possible pros. Is the building of the pipeline really worth the environmental concerns, destruction of culturally significant grounds, and the risk of poisoning the water supply of a group of people? I think not, and I hope those making the decision of whether or not to continue on with plans for the pipeline feel the same way.