Headline Crash Course: The Dakota Access Pipeline

North Dakota Pipeline Protests

Back to Article
Back to Article

Headline Crash Course: The Dakota Access Pipeline

Cally Hutson

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story


Since April 2016, Standing Rock Sioux people and allies have been protesting against the construction of a 1,134 mile pipeline by Energy Transfer Partners, a major oil company, that aims to transport crude oil from Bakken/Three Forks, North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. This initiative sparked intense backlash by Native people and their supporters, as the pipeline would cross near their land and potentially contaminate their drinking water.


Who’s Against the Pipeline?

The Standing Rock Sioux people formally filed a lawsuit against the U.S Army Corps of Engineers after they provided permits to the oil companies that allowed the pipeline to cross the Missouri river. This river is linked to the native peoples’ water source and the customs that go along with their way of life. Based on recent oil spills in Oklahoma and around the country, they worry that the pipeline may leak — contaminating potable water and the environment itself. They desperately want construction of the pipeline to stop completely and for the route to be changed.

Since stationing themselves on Standing Rock, water-protectors have been subjected to intense violence by the police, being hit by tear gas, rubber bullets and water hoses. On December 4th, the U.S Army Corps of Engineers halted construction of DAPL by denying a permit that would allow the pipeline to be built under Lake Oahe, but as of January 24th, this order has been superseded by President Trump’s executive action.


Who’s For the Pipeline?

From the perspective of the main financial supporters of the pipeline, the daughter companies of Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, believe the pipeline will provide thousands of jobs and help boost the American economy. They claim transporting crude oil in this manner is more efficient and safer than by rail or truck. In a recent statement made by the CEO of ETP, Kelsy Warren expressed that the Standing Rock Sioux people’s fear of contaminated water is ‘unfounded’ as there are already many methods of oil transport that cross the Missouri river. Although they have publicly stated that they respect the Standing Rock Sioux people and their concerns, the backers maintain that the pipeline would be thoroughly inspected to meet all safety standards and will continue to be built.

BREAKING: On his fourth day in office, President Trump has just approved and expedited the construction of this pipeline. Before taking office, the president had publicly supported the pipeline and expressed his desire to complete its construction, partially due to the major “benefits” it has for the American economy and partially because he has financially invested thousands of dollars in Phillips 66, which owns a fraction of the pipeline.


Next Steps

In response to Trump’s executive order, the Standing Rock Sioux have already publicly stated that they will be taking legal action against the administration, though as of right now, it is unclear on what they may look like. The water-protectors are still struggling to defund the investors backing the DAPL financially. Their goal was to pressure Energy Transfer Partner’s investors into discontinuing their support, so that they are forced to permanently stop construction of the pipeline.

In related news, Trump also signed orders that would overturn President Obama’s denial of the Keystone XL pipeline, another highly controversial oil transport that would cross from Canada to Nebraska.

As we’ve seen already, the new administration has the potential to make a lot of changes in regards to oil transport in the upcoming year, something that makes the protesters especially wary. The recent memorandum signed by Trump has already evoked outrage from the Native community and will certainly result in more activism by these groups.