The $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline is designed to transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken and Three Forks Oil Fields in North Dakota to a crude oil market hub located near Patoka, Ill. From there, the oil would ultimately be sent to refineries in the Midwest and on the Gulf Coast. The 1,100-mile-long pipeline crosses four states, beginning near Stanley, N.D., and ending at Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline has a diameter of up to 30 inches and has been 60 percent built at this time.
The pipleine developer is Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas. They obtained federal permits for the $3.8 billion pipeline in July, two years after it was first announced. The company says that pipelines are safer than moving oil by rail. The oil pipeline travels mostly across private land and thus avoids much of the major pipeline oversight.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and supporters have been rallying in camps near the pipeline construction alignment since last April in Cannon Ball, N.D. Opponents on the ground today number between 800 to 1,000 people. The encampment is said to be the largest gathering of Indian people in North America in the past century.
The pipeline’s opponents argue the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was never adequately consulted on the project, which threatens their water supply, as well as that of millions of people downstream from the pipeline’s proposed crossing under the Missouri River. Construction has already damaged the tribe’s sacred and cultural sites, including burial sites. The tribe demands a stop to further destruction of its cultural heritage.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, holds the last easement, located next to the Missouri River, needed for the pipeline to be built.The government law enforcement is led by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department, the National Guard and officers from police departments from surrounding states have been mobilized in the area. This despite the peaceful nature of the protesters. Law enforcement are often clad in riot gear and use armored personnel carriers, all-terrain vehicles and surveillance aircraft.
Adapted from M. Pelto