By: Julian Lee
Battles between protagonists and protesters about the Dakota Pipeline escalate with time. The Dallas, Texas based company, Energy Transfer Partners, has been trying to build their underground oil pipeline system for months now and have Sunoco (another Texas-based oil company) operate the system. Their plans, however, create a conflict of interest as they look to build under ancestral Native-American land. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with outside protester, have been attempting to stop the company from crossing the culturally significant grounds.
Native-American territories will be affected by the pipeline because it will be built near and under their land. Although nearly every landowner in North Dakota has agreed to allow construction, Standing Rock Sioux Native tribe objects to one location in which they intend to build. It is just north of their land. They believe it will disgrace sacred and cultural land where they have strong ancestry. They are also afraid of environmental damage due to possible complications with the pipe system.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.7 billion project that calls for pipes as low as 150 feet underground in the state of North Dakota. The line is a little over 1,000 miles in length and crosses the Mississippi River. The U.S. Army Corps said that the project “will be among the safest, most technologically advanced pipelines in the world,” according to dapipelinefacts.com.
The pipelines, however, will be managed by the oil company Sunoco. Online source, Mother Jones, says Sunoco “has been responsible for at least 203 known leaks since 2010”. Oil leaks and pipe ruptures are always possible. They are serious threats to the environment as well.
The environment is not only one thing protesters in favor of the Sioux tribe are fighting to protect. The land is very important to the Sioux because it is the land of their ancestors. The land serves as former hunting and current burial grounds to the tribe.
Battles between protesters and law enforcement have escalated in severity over the past months. Protesters have been restrained using force and even sprayed with water in the freezing cold. Protesters still choose to occupy the space and set up spaces such as camp spots to continue resistance.
Former President Barack Obama had decided to halt the pipeline’s construction despite 22 percent of the project being complete. It was decided that the pipeline threatened the Sioux’s water supply.
Unfortunately for the tribe, current President Donald Trump has promised to decrease regulations on the fossil fuel industry. Mother Jones says that President Trump stated, “a treasure trove of untapped energy,” will be unleashed. This may mean that he will push for the advancement of the pipeline with little hope of stopping him.