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A Crude Fight: Construction of the DAPL

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The U.S Army Corps of Engineers recently notified Congress that it plans to give Energy Transfer Partners the last easement it needs to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. The plans for the easement come as a result of U.S President Donald Trump’s order to speed up the environmental review.

The DAPL has been under construction since April 2016. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protest its construction, as it may threaten their sole water source and goes through sacred land and Indigenous burial sites. The pipeline was also approved without any consultation with the tribe.

Progress on the pipeline has been stagnant for months due to both the protests and the Obama administration’s order to determine other alternative methods and inspect the environmental impact. The Obama administration found that the current path of the pipeline violated the Tribe’s treaty rights, and that a new path was warranted.

Standing Rock, along with other opponents to the pipeline, plan to continue fighting its construction. Given the new decision, according to the Bismarck Tribune, Standing Rock plans to take this matter to court, arguing that the Environmental Impact Statement was wrongfully terminated.

“If the river became contaminated it could affect downstream cities in addition to local communities, and impact fishing, recreation, and aquatic ecosystems as well as drinking water,” said Sarah Rubenfeld, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science.

The tribe is also planning a march on Washington on March 10 in order to stop pipeline operations. According to the Bismarck Tribune, Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, is asking advocates to support from home and not return to protest.

“Please respect our people and do not come to Standing Rock. Instead exercise your First Amendment rights and take this fight to your respective state capitols, to your members of Congress and to Washington, D.C.,” Archambault said.

Supporters of the pipeline argue that its construction will create jobs and decrease the United States’ reliance on other countries for oil. How many jobs, however, are in question. According to Mother Jones and the Dakota Access Pipeline Fact Sheet, the pipeline is projected to create 8,000 to 12,000 new construction jobs. Professor David Swenson, associate scientist in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, calculated about 1,500 jobs created from the pipeline.

Swenson also expects most of those hired for these jobs to be from outside of Iowa. The Des Moines Register reports that there will only be about 12 to 15 permanent jobs after construction is complete.

In terms of other positives, Rubinfeld stated that, “The pipeline would allow crude oil to be transported more cheaply, and some of those savings might be passed along to consumers in the form of lower gas prices. There would also be less oil transported by other means, such as trains, which have their own risks and impacts.”

Whether this project will be completed, or if the legal system will shut it down, will be something only time can reveal.

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