Dakota Access Pipeline

by Sydni Joubran, Guest Author

This opinion piece does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Ecology Center. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

There has been a lot of media focused on the current issues of the Dakota Access Pipeline, including the location, the risks associated, and the protesting of the pipeline. But with all this media coverage how do we know what is real and what has been exaggerated? In this blog post I will be covering the bases of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), what was the original plan and why was it changed, the ongoing construction of the pipeline, the protesting of the pipeline, and what you can do to voice your opinion.

Let's start off with how the Dakota Access Pipeline came into being. Dakota Access, a subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners based in Texas, proposed the DAPL in 2014. The pipeline will run from Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Pakota, Illinois. It will be an underground pipeline that carries about 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day, and it will cost about $3.8 billion. The DAPL is expected to bring thousands of jobs and an economic boom by moving away from foreign oil. The project was proposed to be finished in late 2016, but current protests have halted construction in key areas and have caused the Army Corps of Engineers to be called in for consultation.

The DAPL was originally routed near Bismarck, North Dakota, a primarily caucasian and middle to upper class city, but when the residents expressed their concern for the pipeline being so close to the city it was rerouted just north of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation (here is map of the old and new routes). The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has expressed their concerns for the pipeline as well, but the companies and authorities have been reluctant to listen. The DAPL is routed just a mile north of the current reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but it cuts through sacred burial grounds that used to be a part of the reservation until recent federal bills took the land away. Not only is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe upset about their burial grounds, but they are also concerned that the pipe will leak oil into the Missouri River, which is their main source of water and recreation.

Construction on the DAPL has been ongoing since Judge Boasberg denied a request for injunction (pg. 38-58) from the Sioux Tribe. The Indians and those who support their cause have been protesting the pipeline at construction sites near the Standing Rock Reservation. These protests have been friendly, including marching, chanting, setting up camps near the sites, and chaining themselves to bulldozers. In some areas the construction has continued around the protestors, while in other areas police have been called in to contain them. Police have so far used dogs, pepper spray, water cannons, brute force, and rubber bullets to keep the protesters away from the property. Here is one of many videos of the clashing between protesters and police and a timeline of DAPL protests since January 2016.

Many oil favoring politicians have expressed their support for the DAPL, but many other politicians, actors, much of the general public, and over 200 native American Indian tribes have expressed their support of the Sioux Tribe and the dismantling of the DAPL. Currently the Army Corps of Engineers is investigating the pipeline and the possible effects it may have on the surrounding land and water supply. However, President Trump has recently signed an executive order to advance the approval of the Keystone and DAPL saying that he would “get that pipeline built.” This information comes from CNN Politics, but there are many articles about Trump’s approval of the oil pipelines although not much information has come out about the findings of the Army Corps investigation.

So how does the DAPL affect us here in Michigan? The DAPL is planned to transport crude oil to Pakota, Illinois, which is only 5 hours from the Michigan border. This means that oil would be more accessible to Michigan, but most likely would not decrease the cost of oil based products within the state. DAPL also has many implications for the rights of minority peoples and the passing of the DAPL would be a major setback in the progress of the United States towards freedom and justice for all. As Michigan is home to over 11 major Indian tribes, the DAPL hits close to home in the mistreatment of these community members.

If you are interested in voicing your opinion on the DAPL here is a checklist of what you can do. If you are residents of the Ann Arbor area, the University of Michigan has already hosted a few stand outs, rallies, and informational sessions that are open to anyone in the area and I am sure there will be more to come as construction and protesting of the DAPL continues.

  1. Raise awareness through social media with #NoDAPL
  2. Submit a comment to the Army Corps
  3. Make a donation to the Sioux Tribe to be used in the fight against DAPL
  4. Contact the White House at (202-456-1111) or send an email to https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact telling president Trump to STOP the construction of the DAPL

Author Information

Sydni Joubran

Sydni Joubran

I am a student at the University of Michigan studying environmental science, sustainability and spanish in which I plan to complete a graduate program before starting my career in the research field. I am passionate about environmental issues and stewardship in all forms as well as public education on these topics. I believe that adequate information is required to make an educated decision or opinion about any subject and environmental topics seem to be less covered and more opinionated through many news sources. My goal here is to provide relevant information to young adults about current environmental issues in hopes that they will share my passion towards environmental stewardship and justice.


Published on November 1, 2016