Permission to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline without making costly detours around Lake Oahe or Native American lands has been granted by the Deputy Secretary of the Army, and President Trump has officially granted the construction permit.
Despite months of protest from American citizens, veterans, and the Native Americans whose land the pipeline will directly affect, the Trump administration, shortly after taking office, asked the Army Corps of Engineers to speed up the review of the project that had been previously asked for by President Barack Obama.
This move comes as no shock to oil and gas proponents, and falls squarely in line with the administration’s energy policies so far. According to communication between Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army Paul D. Cramer to Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), with this easement granted, 7.37 acres of public land will soon be installed with an oil pipeline, comprising part of the larger, 1,172-mile-long Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from the state’s Bakken shale oilfields to Patoka, Illinois.
Protests against the pipeline in fall and winter of 2016 brought the dialogue surrounding the DAPL to a fever pitch. Apart from the countless articles posts, and social media check-ins, public faces were making their frustrations over the project known as well. Senators Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein, both candidates for president in the 2016 election, rallied against the DAPL. An arrest warrant for vandalism was issued for Stein for her participation in the protests.
Shortly after veterans group Veterans Stand amassed the support of over 4,000 military men and women to join in the cause, the order was seemingly halted during Obama’s final days in office.
“This country is repressing our people,” Michael A. Wood, Jr., a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, retired Baltimore police officer, and member of Veterans Stand, told Task and Purpose. “If we’re going to be heroes, if we’re really going to be those veterans that this country praises, well, then we need to do the things that we actually said we’re going to do when we took the oath to defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic.”
The victory was short-lived, however, and the bulldozers will once again advance on the land.
President Donald Trump has said he’d “renegotiate some of the terms” of the Keystone legislation, but that his primary goal was to “get that pipeline built.” The project’s supporters, including Senators Heidi Heitkamp, (D-ND), and Joe Manchin (D-WV), hailed the move as a success for industry.
“What this country needs is more jobs, and that is why I have always been a proponent of the Keystone XL Pipeline and was an original cosponsor of legislation approving the Keystone XL Pipeline project,” Minchin said. “With a majority of Americans in support of the Keystone XL pipeline’s construction, I’m glad we are finally moving forward with this important project.”
Politics aside, the stalwart protesters and Native Americans still camped out in areas like Cannon Ball, ND, will be providing this administration with just as much resistance to the DAPL as they did during the last.
“President Trump is legally required to honor our treaty rights and provide a fair and reasonable pipeline process,” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II released in a statement. “Americans know this pipeline was unfairly rerouted towards our nation and without our consent. The existing pipeline route risks infringing on our treaty rights, contaminating our water and the water of 17 million Americans downstream.”
— Indigenous (@AmericanIndian8) February 7, 2017
Veterans Stand is redoubling efforts as well. Funding pages have been set up and the group hopes to garner even more support for the veterans who are now protesting the Trump administration’s decision to allow the pipeline.
“The 4,000 could have easily turned into 20,000, because that’s how we’re trained to operate,” Anthony Diggs, communications director for Veterans Stand told CNBC.
Requests from the Standing Rock community for a comment have gone unanswered, and in one case, have been ignored by the President.
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) February 8, 2017
The 30-inch pipe that constructs the DAPL could soon be transporting over 570,000 barrels of oil a day. The local wildlife is not the least of those who will be affected by the pipeline. North and South Dakota are home to many different species whose environments and lives would be severely damaged by an oil spill. Among the endangered species living there are the endangered northern river otter, swift fox, black-footed ferret, and gray wolf.
“The main threat to wildlife from pipelines is from spills, and all pipelines spill eventually because nothing lasts forever,” Brett Hartl, endangered species policy director for the Center for Biological Diversity, told The Dodo. “The companies building this pipeline have terrible track records and it is only a matter of when, not if, that these pipelines spill into the aquifers and rivers.”
If completed, the pipeline will be operated by Sunoco Logistics, which doesn’t have a spotless record when it comes to leaks. The company recorded at least 203 leaks in onshore oil pipelines in the last six years alone, according to a Reuters report.
Those interested in voicing their opinion can call the White House at 202-456-1111 to ask the Trump administration to suspend the easement once again. The Army Corps of Engineers can be reached with the same questions at 202-761-5903.
To follow up on the history of the North Dakota lands the DAPL is planned on, and the protests that made history, click the button below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.