Dakota Access Pipeline


On June 25, 2014 a plan was announced to build a 1,172 mile-long underground oil pipeline from the Bakken Shale oil fields in North Dakota, to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois.  This pipeline has many supporters; they claim that it’s construction will create jobs, lower oil prices, and make the United States more self sufficient.  While there are many supporters, there are also many that oppose it.  They say that the jobs will not be permanent, and the pipeline would damage the ecosystem.  The most vocal groups of the opposition have been Native American tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux and the Cheyenne River Sioux.  For years now, both sides have been arguing back and forth over the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

     A large part of the want for the Dakota Access Pipeline is the need to become less energy dependent from other countries.  Right now, about two thirds of the U.S trade deficit comes from the importation of oil.  Once the pipeline is completed, it will save the U.S thousands of dollars towards our economy.  Another pro for the construction of the pipeline is the creation of jobs it will bring.  The Dakota Access Pipeline will create an estimated 10,000 jobs to American citizens.  Along with jobs, the pipeline will bring approximately 130 million dollars of tax money into the local and regional economies that the pipeline would pass through. This tax money would go towards the improvement of schools, roads, and other needs throughout the state.  We talked to Ipswich High School Junior, Tyler Whynott, about this topic.  “I think that we should build this pipeline; it creates jobs and brings in money.  That’s what we need.”  Many people would agree with Tyler on this topic.   The Dakota Access Pipeline will not just benefit the residents residing near the pipeline, but the whole country.

     There are many reasons why building this pipeline would be beneficial, but there are several reasons why people don’t want it.  The most push-back has come from local Native American tribes, specifically the Sioux tribe.  They claim that the pipe crosses into their reservation land.  This land was given to the Native Americans as part of the treaty of Fort Laramie.  Building the pipeline, if it does go into their land, is a direct violation of that treaty.  The Sioux claim that the pipe’s path interrupts an ancient burial ground.  These claims are hard to prove for the Sioux.  The path for the pipeline was purchased from mostly private landowners.  However, the Sioux claim that some of that “private” land was actually part of their reservation. To assure that the land was obtained legally, the United States Army Corps of Engineers arranged close to 400 meetings with members of local tribes from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation land. Whether you believe the pipeline is in the Sioux’s territory or not, you have to realize the danger that could come from a pipe break.  The pipeline goes right through a lot of places where the tribes get their water.  If the pipe were to burst near the tribe’s land, much of their water supply would be eliminated.  This, mixed with the ecological damages an oil spill would cause, are clear reasons why the pipeline is not a good idea.

     Not all protesters of the Dakota access pipeline are from the Native American tribes. Their biggest complaint about the pipeline is that the jobs the pipeline promises aren’t what they seem.  The company building the controversial pipeline has promised as many as forty thousand jobs.  This is one aspect of it that has lead many people, specifically of the Midwest region, to support the pipeline.  In reality those positions will not all be permanent. The vast majority of these jobs are part of constructing the pipeline.  This construction will in fact create thousands of jobs, but only for two to at the most four months.  After that the people will once again be out of work.  There will only be about two dozen permanent jobs that will come from the construction of the pipeline. This is a minuscule number compared to the thousands that many are expecting and depending on.

Both sides of the controversy have valid points as to whether or not the Dakota Access Pipeline should be built.  The construction of the pipeline would create jobs, lower oil prices, and reduce the United State’s reliance on foreign oil. Those against it say that it goes through native American land, is a risk to the environment, and won’t actually create as many jobs as some expect it to. Each side will continue to press their arguments.  Whether the Dakota Access Pipeline is built or not, it could have a huge impact on the generations that come after us.