The Fight Against the Dakota Access Pipeline


In September, a court will rule if approval for an oil pipeline in North Dakota violates Native American rights. The oil pipeline will run from North Dakota to Illinois, close to Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation. The pipeline is also planned to go across several rivers including the Missouri and the Mississippi.  Both these rivers supply drinking water for millions of people. Their watershed reaches 31 states and two Canadian Provinces.


The pipeline, Dakota Access, was approved to send 400,000 – 500,000 barrels of oil a day. It is being constructed by Energy Transfer for a hefty $3.7bn price tag.  They claim that if a leak were to occur, then they would quickly seal it off.


Opponents of the projects don’t think so. Thousands of Native Americans from 50 tribes have come together in opposition. Teepees and tents have also been pitched at the Dakota Access construction site. A large protest in Washington, DC last week brought “protectors not protestors” and tribal members together outside the court to try to stop the continuation of the pipeline, which has halted in Iowa for different reasons. Tribal leaders say that it’s not a matter of if an oil leak will happen but when.

Dakota Access Protest in Iowa
Dakota Access Protest in Iowa

Earthjustice, the environmental law firm representing the Standing Rock Sioux, says the “Army Corps of Engineers violated the National Historic Preservation Act when it approved the project and that a more stringent environmental review should be done.” The tribe themselves claimed in court they never had a chance to assess the impact of the pipeline on their lands.


If this all sounds familiar, it should. The Dakota Access is only slightly shorter than then controversial Keystone XL project which was rejected last year. Though it would only carry about half the amount of oil Keystone XL was projected to send from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, Dakota Access could have a huge negative impact on the environment, drinking water, and historical sites if allowed to continue.