“This week, an impassioned fight over a 1,170-mile oil pipeline moved from the prairies of North Dakota to a federal courtroom in Washington. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose reservation lies just south of the pipeline’s charted path across ranches and under the Missouri River, has asked a judge to halt construction. The American Indian tribe argues that a leak or spill could be ruinous.” J. Healy, The New York Times
Excerpt: North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why-By Jack Healy, The New York Times
“It may take until Sept. 9, 2016 for a federal judge to decide whether to allow the Dakota Access pipeline to move ahead, or grant an injunction that would press the pause button on construction…Starting with members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, the protest has since grown to several hundred people — estimates vary — most of them from tribes across the country.
The protesters have encamped in a field belonging to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Each day, they march a mile up a highway to a construction site where preparatory work is being done for the pipeline. While the protesters say they are peaceful, there have been reports of heated confrontations with law enforcement officers and construction workers, and 20 people have been arrested.The pipeline company, Energy Transfer Partners, has sued several protesters, claiming they have threatened and intimidated contractors and were blocking work at the site.
Energy Transfer Partners Company
The Dakota Access pipeline is a $3.7 billion project that would carry 470,000 barrels of oil a day from the oil fields of western North Dakota to Illinois, where it would be linked with other pipelines. Energy Transfer says the pipeline will pump millions of dollars into local economies and create 8,000 to 12,000 construction jobs — though far fewer permanent jobs to maintain and monitor the pipeline.
Energy Transfer map for pipeline
Photo: The Dakota Access pipeline is proposed to transport light, sweet crude oil from the North Dakota Bakken region through South Dakota and Iowa into Illinois. Traveling through 50 counties in 4 states, the proposed route was carefully designed to transport crude in the safest, most efficient way possible. – Energy Transfer-
Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe
The tribe see the pipeline as a major environmental and cultural threat. They say its route traverses ancestral lands — which are not part of the reservation — where their forebears hunted, fished and were buried. They say historical and cultural reviews of the land where the pipeline will be buried were inadequate. They also worry about catastrophic environmental damage if the pipeline were to break near where it crosses under the Missouri River.
Vincent Night Horse Fox, 25 White Shield, North Dakota
Others Involved in the pipeline battle
State and federal agencies have approved the pipeline, and some farmers and ranchers have welcomed the thousands of dollars in payments that came with signing agreements to allow it to across their land. But others oppose the pipeline.
In Iowa, one of the four states that the pipeline would traverse, some farmers have gone to court to keep it off their land.
How many pipelines in the United States?
The United States has a web of 2.5 million miles of pipelines that carry products like oil and natural gas, pumping them to processing and treatment plants, power plants, homes and businesses. Most of the lines are buried, but some run above ground.
How safe are pipelines?
Energy companies and their federal overseer, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, promote the safety record of pipelines. Pipeline companies say it is far safer to move oil and natural gas in an underground pipe than in rail cars or trucks, which can crash and create huge fires.
But pipeline spills and ruptures occur regularly, sometimes in small leaks and sometimes in catastrophic gushers. In 2013, a Tesoro Logistics pipeline in North Dakota broke open and spilled 865,000 gallons of oil onto a farm. In 2010, an Enbridge Energy pipeline dumped more than 843,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, resulting in a cleanup that lasted years and cost more than a billion dollars, according to Inside Climate News.”
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