I think that the Dakota Access Pipeline should not be approved. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an oil pipeline that runs from North Dakota to Illinois, that will transport 470,000 barrels of ‘light sweet crude oil’: oil that is less than .42% sulfur. The CEO of the company Energy Transfer—which is making the pipeline—says it is 60% done. The reasons why I am not in support of the pipeline is firstly, because it puts the environment at risk. Secondly, it runs through Native American’s sacred land, and thirdly, because it isn’t very safe.
The main reason why I am not in support of the pipeline is because it poses a threat to the environment. The proposed pipeline will run over a very large aquifer, which is a major source of water for people in that area. Should the pipeline leak or rupture—which happens quite frequently according to The New York Times—the aquifer would be contaminated and the water would be deemed dangerous to consume. As many people know, water is a very hard thing to clean, so cleansing the aquifer of oil could take a long time. In 2010, the Keystone Pipeline spilled more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River.
Another reason why I am not in support of the pipeline is because it runs through Native American land. Should a leak occur, thousands of barrels of oil would be dumped onto their land. We move Native Americans around very frequently, and often act as if we own them, and we need to remember that we don’t.
Energy Transfer is trying to use eminent domain to claim the land, but according to The Legal Dictionary, CBS News and the United States Department of Justice, eminent domain can only be used if the land is for public use, like a highway. An oil pipeline owned by a private company is not public, unless Energy Transfer is going to allow people to literally take oil from their pipeline whenever they want. This proves that Energy Transfer is unjustly and illegally stealing land from the Native Americans, claiming eminent domain.
The main argument people make to support the pipeline is that it is very safe. I for one, do not agree. In 2012 alone, there were 168 documented oil pipeline spills, amounting to roughly one spill every 3 days! According to Energy Transfer, the pipeline uses newer and safer technology to prevent spills, but to be factually correct, most of the pipeline was built in 2012. I’m not sure what their definition of ‘new technology’ is, but that means most of the pipeline so far was built almost 5 years ago! While pipelines may be safer than trucks, they too are not very safe.
Also, if a leak occurs, barrels and barrels of oil will gush out into the environment. At least with a truck only a small amount of oil will be spilled, so it is easier to clean up. If 470,000 barrels of oil travel through the pipeline and they are spaced out evenly through the day, if a spill occurs at noon—according to my own calculations—235,000 barrels of oil will spill unless the oil is turned off in time. 235,000 barrels of oil is quite a lot!
If the Keystone pipeline—which is only a couple miles shorter than the Dakota Access Pipeline—wasn’t approved, why should this one be? In April, a leak occurred in a section of the Keystone Pipeline. That section of the pipeline was quickly shut off, and the company TransCanada assured the media that less than 200 gallons of oil had been spilled. After further investigation, the company found that not 200, not 300, not 400, but 16,800 gallons of oil had spilled, most of which had been absorbed into the ground! TransCanada was very wrong about its estimate. In fact, the actual amount of spilled out was more than 89 times what they had estimated, CNN reported on April 11th. ThinkProgress explains this in more detail: “Misreported leak volumes often occur following oil spills as companies investigate accidents and discover oil seeped deeper in the ground or waterways than they first thought. Revised figures are at times much larger than first reported. In 2014, for instance, an oil spill in North Dakota was first reported to have caused a loss of 750 barrels of oil, a figure that climbed to about 20,600 barrels once the soil was further investigated.”
This evidence backs up my claim that the Dakota Access Pipeline should not be approved because it puts the environment at risk, it illegally uses Native American land, and it is not as safe as the company makes it out to be.
- Energy Transfer. “Dakota Access Pipeline.” Dakota Access Pipeline. Energy Transfer, 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.daplpipelinefacts.com/>.
- Pelley, Scott. “CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.” CBS Evening News. New York, New York, 8 Sept. 2016. Stand-off in the Great Plains as Native Americans Fight Oil Pipeline Construction. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/stand-off-in-the-great-plans-as-native-americans-fight-oil-pipeline-construction/>.
- Healy, Jack. “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 26 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/us/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-battle-whos-fighting-and-why.html?_r=0>.
- United States Department of Justice. “History of The Federal Use of Eminent Domain.” U.S. Department of Justice. United States Department of Justice, 15 May 2015. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <https://www.justice.gov/enrd/history-federal-use-eminent-domain>.
- Henry, Devin. “Five Things to Know about the Dakota Access Pipeline Fight.” TheHill. TheHill, 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/293535-five-things-to-know-about-the-dakota-access-pipeline-fight>.
- Fragoso, Alejandro Dávila. “Oil Leak From Keystone Pipeline 89 Times Worse Than Originally Thought.” ThinkProgress. ThinkProgress, 08 Apr. 2016. Web. 11 Nov. 2016. <https://thinkprogress.org/oil-leak-from-keystone-pipeline-89-times-worse-than-originally-thought-c558e125de05#.kap2ylihu>.
- Archambault, David, II. “Taking A Stand At Standing Rock.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Aug. 2016. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/opinion/taking-a-stand-at-standing-rock.html?_r>.