The Controversy of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project Continues

The Controversy of the Dakota Access Pipeline Project Continues
Bernadine Racoma

In early 2016, grassroots protesters set up camp in North Dakota to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline that will run on sacred lands of Native Americans. Protesters claimed that the project would destroy the environment and protected areas. President Obama halted the construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River on December 4, 2016. However, President Trump signed the executive order to continue the project on January 24, 2017. The Army Corps of Engineers was given permission for the easement that would continue the pipeline work under Lake Oahe.


The group of protesters that initially set up camp in the area started to dwindle, although they were still in the thousands. They were told to vacate the area by 2 pm Wednesday and hundreds left peacefully although some defied the deadline and chose to remain. Late Wednesday Gov. Doug Burgum said that only about 50 protesters were still on the campground. On Thursday, police in riot gear arrived to raid the area and arrested the remaining protesters.

Environmental impact

Protesters claimed that the construction of the pipeline might endanger water sources and destroy sacred lands. With their presence in the area, the progress of construction work has been drastically slowed down. The area that protesters occupied is over 1,000 acres, including sensitive wildlife habitat, according to state officials. Now they are busy with the cleanup efforts. Since snow is thawing and hundreds of people trampled the area, it has turned into a muddy ground with hazardous fuels and human waste, because it was turned into a dumping ground by the protesters who claimed to protect the environment.

Col. John Henderson of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers said they have removed about 250 truckloads of trash and the agency will have to spend more than $1.2 million for the area’s rehabilitation. They have to work fast to prevent the structures, debris, waste and garbage left by the protesters from getting into the reservoirs.

Project benefits

With the project continuation approved by Pres. Trump, the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline that will connect the oil supply between Canada and the United States, the U.S. government says it will be a big boost to the country’s economy.

Pres. Trumps says that it will benefit the workers since 28,000 jobs will be created in the U.S. Experts are doubtful about this claim since most of the work at the Dakota Access Pipeline has been finished. The study done by the owners of the Dakota pipeline estimate that 160 full time jobs will be available once the pipeline is in operation. TransCanada, owners of the Keystone XL said that only about 50 staff will be needed, 15 of which would just be contractors.

The Plains will enjoy a temporary economic boost during the construction, as workers will need food, lodging and entertainment. The local tax revenue will increase. When operational, the Dakota Access is projected to provide property taxes of around $55 million, split across the four states where the pipelines will pass. Temporarily, the construction of the Keystone XL will add $66 million in tax revenue.

The U.S. steel industry will also benefit from the construction of the pipelines as the president ordered that only steel made from U.S. factories should be used.

However, the environment is likely to suffer, in case of an oil spill. After all, there is no guarantee that the pipes will not burst or break.

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