The small war waging within quiet North Dakota

The major controversy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline

Photo provided by Google Images

Photo provided by Google Images

Megan Raynor, Staff Writer

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Currently, tensions are flaring between protestors and law enforcement within the regularly sleepy region of North Dakota. The Dakota Access Pipeline was a project proposed in 2014 by Energy Transfers Partners as a 1,200-mile, 30 inch diameter pipeline that would improve the efficiency of crude oil transport from Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The project is a staggering $3.7 billion, but has the potential to increase crude oil transportation to as high as 570,000 barrels per day. The project initiated in spring 2016 with an anticipated completion by the end of the year; however, at 45% completion the project has come to a halt due to severe conflict.

Although conflict has surrounded the project since it began, it has recently peaked as law enforcement and protestors have become increasingly violent. The majority of protestors include Native American members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others who strongly support Native American rights. Their argument is based around concern for contamination of their major water source, which is derived from the Mississippi River. According to The Guardian, “Tribal leaders also say that the US army corps of engineers’ initial decision to allow the pipeline to run within a half-mile of the local reservation was done without consulting tribal governments and without a thorough study of impacts. This means, the tribe says, that the project violates federal law and native treaties with the US government.” Unfortunately, little direct government action has been taken in response to the sentiments of mistreatment and encroachment on sacred land by Native Americans.

In response to opponents Energy Transfers Partners has claimed that the cessation of the project at its current state will cause “devastating short and long-term impacts.”  The company also claims on their website that the pipeline is the most efficient and safe way to transport crude oil. The ultimate goal of the installation of the pipeline is to increase the production of oil within the United States in order to decrease its dependence on other nations for crude oil. The project has the potential to create up to 12,000 jobs through the course of its production. According to Energy Transfers Partners, “The pipeline will translate into millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase and an estimated $129 million annually in property and income taxes. The pipeline will generate an estimated $50 million annually in property taxes and nearly $74 million in sales taxes to the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois – for services to support schools, roads, emergency services and more.” The website makes the project seem enticing and claims to be working with efforts to respect the property of those around them.

The conflict between law enforcement and protestors has recently peaked as the project moves farther along to areas of protest camps. Currently, there is a small war occurring between local police and protestors as more than 400 arrests have been made and the use of pepper spray, rubber bullets, and Tasers has increased. As the holiday season approaches and temperatures in the area drop, the disagreements surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline must be addressed as soon as possible.

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