Since 2014, the Standing Rock Sioux, a tribe of around 10,000 citizens with a reservation in the central part of North and South Dakota, has resisted the development of their ancestral lands. The Texas-based company Energy Transfer Partners plans to build a 1,172-mile pipeline designed to transport around 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota to Illinois. However, it was not until the near end of 2016 that this conflict gained national media coverage.
According to Time’s website, opponents’ objections to this project is threefold. Firstly, the pipeline will travel underneath the Missouri River, the primary drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux. Secondly, the pipeline goes through a sacred burial ground belonging to the same tribe. Finally, environmental activists sustain the pipeline would worsen the issue of climate change by building up the country’s oil infrastructure. In addition to the cultural and environmental impacts, tribal leaders argue that the federal government did not consult Sioux people during the permitting process—a requirement under federal law.
Supporters of the pipeline construction argue that this project will create numerous jobs for American people and aid the country’s economy. According to the website daplpipelinefacts.com, the Dakota Access Pipeline is the safest and most environmentally sensitive way to transport crude oil from domestic wells to American consumers. The site also argues that the project crosses almost entirely private land, often already in use for other utility easements. Finally, daplpipelinefacts.com states that the Sioux’s interests have been taken over by politically motivated, anti-fuel protesters.
After all the protests and struggle, opponents were relieved in December 2016 when the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline was brought to a halt by the Army Corps of Engineers. However, in January 2017, the new Trump Administration restarted the project. The Time website states President Trump signed a contract which was, according to him, subject to terms and conditions revised by his government. He also intended to ensure that the pipes used to build the pipeline had to be made in the U.S. just like in the past.
Cnn.com states that despite the fact that President Trump signed the contract to continue with the construction of the pipeline, there is still no official permission to use the lands that are part of the Indian reservation. Thus, the lawyer representing the Standing Rock Sioux, Jan Hasselman, will file a lawsuit to determine the legality of the easement when it is the right time to make the move.
Even though the internet offers different information about the Sioux pipeline conflict, there are cultural and environmental interests at stake. With the pipeline construction almost completed, there seems to be little else that can be done, especially when the permission to advance the project has been granted. However, opponents and supporters of the pipeline will seemingly fight until the end.