After months-long standoffs with protestors, the Dakota Access Pipeline is being readied for service, Bloomberg reports. This comes during the same week of President Donald Trump’s executive orders that rolled back much of the Obama Administration’s climate policies — and cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. While in office, President Barack Obama temporarily blocked the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) even after a federal judge declined to stop construction.
Energy Transfer Partners (the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline), met with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and in September 2014 to provide information to the tribe about the pipeline, The Chicago Tribune reported. The tribe was strongly opposed to the route because the pipeline crosses Lake Oahe and would potentially impact sacred burial sites and possibly contaminate the local water supply.
The pipeline would also violate the 1851 Treaty between the Sioux Tribe and Congress by crossing reservation land. Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren told The Wall Street Journal in November 2016 that if the Standing Rock Sioux had agreed to an earlier discussion with Energy Transfer Partners, the route could have been changed.
In December 2014, Dakota Access LLC, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners, applied to build the 1,134 mile Dakota Access Pipeline. It is projected to carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois, The Chicago Tribune reported.
In an initial environmental assessment requested by the Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees the permitting process, found that the proposed pipeline route “is not expected to have any significant direct, indirect or cumulative impacts on the environment,” The Associated Press reported. However, The Environmental Protection Agency, Interior Department and Advisory Council on Historic Preservation said that the Army Corps should pay more attention to the impact a spill would have on drinking water.
In April 2016, Standing Rock Sioux set up a “spirit camp.” LaDonna Brave Bull Allard told The Associated Press, “We will stop it. We have prayer with us. We are not expendable.”
As the protest grew, celebrities brought more attention to DAPL in August 2016 by supporting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Actors Shailene Woodley, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio and Riley Keough joined protesters, drawing national attention when Shailene Woodley was arrested and handcuffed for trespassing and rioting.
In early September, the Obama administration announced that the project would not continue for now. This came minutes after a federal judge declined the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an injunction to stop construction on the pipeline, The Atlantic reported. The statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Army said that the Army Corps will move to “reconsider any of its previous decisions” regarding whether or not the pipeline violates federal law, specifically the National Environmental Policy Act.
After Trump administration took power this past January, protesters were dispersed at the DAPL site, “at one point with high-pressure water hoses in the icy North Dakota winter,” Bloomberg reported. On March 24, President Trump issued a permit approving the pipeline, reversing orders from former President Obama.
In a statement released Friday, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said they will continue to fight in court and “stand with the many tribes threatened” by DAPL.
Greenpeace, a non-profit environmental organization, is urging banks to withdraw financing from DAPL, arguing that the project violates human rights and environmental laws and will damage banks’ long-term reputations.
What will happen next? At this point, it seems inevitable that DAPL will proceed, however it has become somewhat of a symbol of a larger conversation on environmental policy. How will the Trump Administration’s views on climate change affect the United States — and the world — in the next four years?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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