Dakota Access Pipeline Moves Forward Towards Completion

By | February 21, 2017

The Dakota Access Pipeline project which was stopped during the administration of Barack Obama is granted approval for completion by the Trump White House. The construction of 1,172-mile long underground oil pipeline began in 2014 and it has been controversial ever since. Numerous native Americans from Iowa and Dakota protested against the project due to the environmental impact of the project. In particular, the native tribes Meskwaki and Sioux opposed the construction of the pipeline on their sacred land. President Trump’s executive order has prompted the US Army Corps of Engineers to ease the final approval for the completion of the project.

The Dakota Access project was halted due to the delay in approvals. Now that the project has received all the required federal authorizations, the construction will be expedited to complete the pipeline. The major cause of the protest is that the pipeline has to pass through Sioux land which was promised to the native tribe in the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851. Later, the land was taken away from the tribe.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe receives a major portion of its drinking water from the Missouri river. The pipeline crosses over Lake Oahe and this has raised water contamination issues. Large protests have been organized at the lake Oahe site to express the displeasure of the native tribes. The Army Corps assure that the entire pipeline is constructed underground and cautious measures are taken to prevent any kind of contamination.

Earlier in July, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the Army Corps for $3.8 billion, challenging that the claimed federal owned land actually belonged to the tribe according to the 1851 treaty. However, the pipeline company and Army Corps have submitted papers to court revealing that a standard review process was undertaken.

Trump directed the Army to review approval requests to operate the Dakota Pipeline through his executive order. Subsequently, the Army Corps granted easement as there was sufficient information available to grant the approval. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, however, demands that the alternate route must be considered by the Army Corps. Jan Hasselman, Earthjustice attorney represents the Sioux tribe and he commented that Trump’s order is a violation of treaty rights. The Sioux tribe has promised to take legal action to obtain a ban on the construction of the pipeline.

The supporters of Dakota Access Pipeline are focused on the economic boom that the pipeline can bring about. It can help with a sales revenue of $156 million and income tax revenue. The construction will also bring about 8000 to 12000 new jobs in the region. The pipeline once constructed can move about 470,000 barrels of crude oil per day across the entire Midwest. While Obama tried to end the protest by stopping the construction, Trump’s government has taken action in favor of the energy companies. This means that the Trump administration has a different outlook on the environment and energy issues. The tribe accuses that the new government favors the corporate companies while denying the basic rights of indigenous tribes.

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