DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE 8
TheDakota access pipeline is a controversial 1,172-mile pipeline projectthat would stretch from the Bakken Formation that is rich in crudeoil to Illinois (Meyer, 2016). The successful completion of thepipeline would enable the transportation of 450,000 barrels of crudeoil on a daily basis between the two regions. Upon arriving at anIllinois terminal, the project intends to ship the product torefineries to convert it into usable fuel. Despite the significanteconomic benefits associated with oil pipelines, cases of oilleakages are common. This subjects the residents of the area to therisk of using contaminated water from River Missouri (Chang et al.,2014). In support of the view held by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe,the project would set back the economic and environmental wellbeingof the residents. The pipeline threatens to damage or destroycultural, religious, and historic sites that have play a significantrole to the natives of the affected region (Carpenter & Riley,2016).
NorthDakotas exhibit the highest level of opposition to the project(Healy, 2016). The part of the pipeline that encounters greatestresistance is the part of the project that would run through SiouxCounty. On the aspect of destroying the cultural heritage ofDakotans, the project upon its completion would also run through theNorthern part of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation that housesapproximately 8,250 individuals. This implies that rather thandestroying the cultural site, the pipeline would also subject thelives of the inhabitants of the region to great danger in the eventof leakages and ultimate contamination of their water resources(Chang et al., 2014). As a result, it is proper to argue that thecomplaints raised by members of the Standing Rock Sioux about thepipeline project have valid justification grounds.
Apparently,the arguments of the protesters revolve around two main issues.Firstly, at Lake Oahe, the pipeline would cross the Missouri Riverupon its completion. The distance between the crossing point and thereservation is only half a mile. This implies that the project wouldcontaminate the primary source of water for the tribe in the event ofoil leakage at the crossing point (Stockton, 2016). Initially, theproposed crossing point was a route farther north. However, thecompany rejected the proposed route because of its proximity to theupstream of Bismarck, a region that was close to the drinking waterwells of the state capital. In conformance with the argument of theprotesters, the pipeline would also run through recently discoveredsacred burial sites and other sites of heritage (Ravitz, 2016). Thisrefers to the area situated on the north of the reservation. Eventhough the land does not form part of the reservation, the federalgovernment snatched it forcefully from the Tribe for the past 150years. Since constructing the pipeline entails significantconstruction and bulldozing work, it is apparent that such activitieswould destroy the sacred land of the community.
Thiscalls for the need of either reconsidering the project altogether oridentifying a different route that would not attract significantlevels of protests from local communities. It is also evident thatprotests to the pipeline project were clear as early as 2014. Thisindicates the laxity of the US Federal Government to address theissue with the locals in due time before the onset of theconstruction project. The Federal Law requires the US Government toconsult extensively about potential threat matters such as theproblems raised by the protesters before the onset of anycontroversial project. As a result, the approval of the projectwithout the much-needed consultation was a wrong move by the ArmyCorps of Engineers (Ellis et al., 2016).
Theargument of the Standing Rock Sioux and other Native Americansincluding their allies that the (DAPL) wouldthreaten the existing water sources and desecrate ancestral land isjustified (Gonchar & Harris, 2016). Moreover, it is evident thatthe DAPL would overburden the Standing Rock Sioux and other NativeAmerican tribes without subjecting them to direct benefits associatedwith the resultant economic development. Even though the Army CorpsEngineers used the Nationwide Permit 12 process in rubberstampingauthorizations for the construction activities of the pipelineproject on the Tribe’s land, it is evident that the application ofthe fast-track process was inappropriate. The Corps did not take intoconsideration public input and environmental issues as expected underproper circumstances. Besides violating NEPA, CWA, and NHPA, theCorps also violated the Native American Graves Protection andRepatriation Act by authorizing a project that would destroy therecently discovered burial site (CREDO Action, 2016).
Therefore,the federal agency responsible for playing an oversight role in thepipeline project should have complied with the law by consulting withnative tribes or nations particularly on projects that have thepotential of destroying areas that have cultural and religioussignificance to the residents (Ellis et al., 2016). The law requiresthe federal agency to consult regardless of whether the project inquestion crosses through the reservation area or is near the area.The law aims at ensuring that the federal government does not evictpeople from their native lands forcefully, but rather through aconsultative process involving a dialogue between both parties.
Onan environmentalist approach, it is also necessary to halt theconstruction of the pipeline project. The modern world sufferssignificant the adverse effects of combusting fossil fuels such asthe emission of greenhouse gasses. Previous incidences of oilleakages have also impacted negatively on the environment. As aresult, arguing from an environmentalist or a climate activistnecessitates considering the project as apotential environmental hazard. It is also evident that the handingout of water permits by the Army Corps Engineers took place in aquick manner. The agency also restricted its consultations with thenatives to potential limited impacts of the project to the communityand its cultural, religious, and heritage sites (Plumer, 2016). Inessence, it is proper to state that much of the consultation processdid not include the tribe. Stated differently, the tribe played aminor role in making decisions about the project and its supposedroute.
Itis also evident that Dakota Access employed out-of-state to conductthe land survey exercise before the onset of the project. Apparently,expert surveyors would have noted the significance religious,cultural, and heritage sites of potential impact to the natives(Buhl, 2016). This would have played a pivotal role towards reducingprotests or eliminating them altogether since the federal agencywould have identified a less controversial route. As a result, theinefficiency of the surveyors used during the process contributedsignificantly towards the omission of significant areas including thelately discovered burial sites thereby sparking protests upon theonset of the construction process. Therefore, it would be appropriatefor the agency to reconsider the path of the pipeline project.
Asseen in StandingRock Sioux Tribe v. US Army Corps of Engineers,Civil Action No. 16-1534 (JEB) (D.C. Sept. 9, 2016), theArmy Corps Engineers should have submitted the details of thepipeline project to the Congress for approval before commencing theconstruction process. The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge ofpollutants into water resources that threaten the life of livingorganisms that depend on the water resource. However, it is evidentthat the pipeline would cross hundreds of wetlands, rivers, andstreams that are under the regulation of the federal government. As aresult, it is not lawful to discharge any fill material into thenatural resources without authorization from the Corps. Moreover,Corp’s approval should also adhere to the provisions of theNational Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The NHPA requires thefederal agency to protect sites that bear cultural and historicalsignificance to tribes such as the Standing Rock. It is proper tostate that the construction of the pipeline project is unlawful.
However,the Army Corps Engineers issues the Nationwide Permit 12 (NPW12) onwrong grounds since they authorized the discharge of fill materialinto federal waters without adhering to the provisions of the NHPA.Therefore, it is evident that the Corps did not play the designatedoversight role in the authorization of the construction project inalmost all places with the exclusion of a few areas that requiredapproval from the federal government. This indicates an apparentabdication of the statutory responsibility of the Corps to ensurethat the pipeline construction project does not have an adverseimpact on historical and cultural sites that are significant to theTribe. The improper execution of the statutory obligation of theCorps was evident following its decision to authorize theconstruction of the pipeline beneath Lake Oahe irrespective of thefact that the crossing point was exactly half a mile on the northernside of the Tribe’s reservation. Authorizing discharges intofederal waters in different locations on the land of the Tribe wasalso unlawful. The authorization indicates a clear violation of theClean Water Act and its associated regulations. In essence, theauthorizations did not comply with the National Environmental PolicyAct and the NHPA.
Inconclusion, it is proper to declare that the issuance of the NWP12 bythe Corps was a clear violation of the NHPA. It is also proper todeclare an injunction that prevents the use of the NWP12 about itsapplication in the construction of the pipeline. It is, therefore,imperative for the Corps to comply with § 106 in all areas thatinvolve the discharge of fill material and other substances intofederal waters. It is also proper to declare that the authorizationsmade by the Corps violated the NHPA, NEPA, and CWA. As a result, thecourt should issue an order that vacates all verifications andauthorizations until the Corps complies with NEPA, CWA, and NHPAentirely.
Buhl,L. (2016). Destructionof Sacred Burial Grounds Prompts Federal Judge to Protect Some TribalSites from .Desmog.
Carpenter,K and Riley, R. (2016). StandingTall: The Sioux’s battle against a Dakota oil pipeline is agalvanizing social justice movement for Native Americans.
Chang,S, Stone, J, Demes, K and Piscitelli, M. (2014). Consequences of oilspills: a review and framework for informing planning. Ecologyand Society,19(2).26.
CREDOAction. (2016). TellPresident Obama: Stop the Dakota Access oil Pipeline. #No DAPL.
Ellis,R., Sanchez, R., & Yan, H. (2016). Green light, red light for. CNNNews.Retrievedfrom<http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/09/us/dakota-access-pipeline/>
Gonchar,M., & Harris, K. (2016). BattleOver an Oil Pipeline: Teaching About the Standing Rock SiouxProtests. The New York Times.
Healy,J. (2016). NorthDakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why? Retrievedfrom:<http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/us/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-battle-whos-fighting-and-why.html>
Meyer,R. (2016). TheLegal Case for Blocking the .Retrieved from:<http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/09/dapl-dakota-sitting-rock-sioux/499178/>
Plumer,B. (2016). TheBattle Over the , explained. Vox. Retrievedfrom:<http://www.vox.com/2016/9/9/12862958/dakota-access-pipeline-fight>
Ravitz,J. (2016). The sacred land at the center of the Dakota pipelineDispute.CNN News. Retrievedfrom:<http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/01/us/standing-rock-sioux-sacred-land-dakota-pipeline/>
StandingRock Sioux Tribe v. US Army Corps of Engineers,Civil Action No. 16-1534 (JEB) (D.C. Sept. 9, 2016).
Stockton,N. (2016). TheDismal Science of the Standing Rock Pipeline Protests.Retrievedfrom:<https://www.wired.com/2016/11/dismal-science-standing-rock-pipeline-protests/>