The Dakota Access Pipeline
The Dakota Access Pipeline is an ongoing construction project that provides an efficient and refined method for the transportation of crude oil across North Dakota and surrounding states. When reviewing whether or not the government should halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, we are met with a simplified argument that diverts to commonly disputed political issues at its core. This basic argument disputes the importance of environmental preservation versus economic improvements evident on a national scale. The Dakota Access Pipeline and its construction is a project that should be met with continual support to improve the infrastructure in previously under-supported regions of the country for its attributed economic improvements.
When we evaluate the current needs of our nation, many of our fundamental processes are heavily reliant on the use of oil. This is inclusive of many of the core sectors that fuel our nation and its economy, such as our transportation and manufacturing industries. The Dakota Access Pipeline is an underground transportation method that aids in the distribution of crude oil throughout "Gulf Coast and Midwest refineries” (Dakota Access Pipeline). When our nation diverts to the use of pipelines, transportation, and operative costs are reduced leading to widespread effects across the affected regions. For instance, before the utilization of this pipeline on a large scale, the Bakken region primarily relied on truck and railroad systems to transport their oil (Dakota Access Pipeline). In addition to these methods being inefficient due to their speed, they are also dangerous to transport. Instead, operating costs are minimized upon integrating the use of the pipeline to replace more primitive and dangerous systems of transport.
The implementation of the Dakota Access Pipeline project also led to the creation of thousands of jobs for the duration of its ongoing construction. In fact, the project "created approximately 8,000 to 12,000 jobs during construction” (Dakota Access Pipeline). This provided jobs for individuals involved in skilled manual labor while simultaneously improving the infrastructure of the nation. It is also important to note the impact that these workers had on the surrounding economies during the time the workers were housed there, as utilizing local businesses enhanced local economies.
Additionally, the pipeline made crude oil widely accessible to underserved markets that were previously isolated. Upon construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, communities were able to access heat and electricity at fairer rates than was previously experienced without the help of the pipeline (Moore 3). This can be attributed to the lower operative and transportation costs that pass down savings to the consumer.
The primary argument against the pipeline is for the potential of the pipeline to cause environmental implications in Native American protected regions. Notably, environmentalists and conservationists argue that the pipeline could potentially be detrimental to the surrounding water sources where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River (Moore 1). However, without the utilization of the pipeline as a method to transport oil, we would otherwise transport our oil using more pollutive and riskier methods such as trucks and railroads which contribute to increased carbon emissions, oil spills, and rely on non-renewable resources.
Surrounding the argument of environmental preservation, it is important to note the high levels of misinformation that were spread throughout the time of the highly televised protest against the continued construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Primarily, these protests were held during the times of a legal battle between those in charge of the construction project and members of Native American tribes. The pipeline was rerouted to respect reservation lands of Native Americans to dispel conflicts brought about by the protests and riots surrounding the battle (Moore 2). Locals of the regions where destruction caused by protesters took place noted that many of the individuals causing issues throughout the protests were not there to contest the issue on the behalf of the Native Americans. Instead, they were looking to cause trouble while operating under the false façade of opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (Moore 2). In response to the issues caused by these rioters, those managing the project later voluntarily donated additional funds to North Dakota to compensate for the mayhem caused by the discrepancies.
In addition to the noted cost reductions that were prevalent amongst various sectors affected by the oil industry, this project also continually raises capital through the property taxes that are paid on the pipeline. These tax dollars contribute to the creation of various public amenities inclusive of hospitals, education, and emergency service resources (Dakota Access Pipeline). Ultimately, this money is returned to the community in many different forms while keeping the costs of oil-related goods low for consumers in the surrounding communities that are directly served by the pipeline.
When we note the various economic benefits that the pipeline has introduced to underserved communities, it is unthinkable that the government should hinder the construction of this project. Environmental concerns about the pipeline are widely unfounded claims that are misrepresentative of the safety of the pipeline. We should continue to support projects that positively impact our communities and nation as a whole, starting at a community level.
Dakota Access Pipeline. "Moving America’s Energy, the Dakota Access Pipeline.” Dakota Access Pipeline, 7 June 2017.
Moore, Ellen. Journalism, Politics, and the Dakota Access Pipeline: Standing Rock and the Framing of Injustice (Routledge Studies in Environmental Communication and Media). 1st ed., Routledge, 2019.