The Dakota Access Pipeline (more commonly known DAPL) is a 1,886 km (1,172 miles) long pipeline that stretches from the oil pumps in North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to Illinois, where it connects with the Energy Transfer Crude Oil Pipeline to carry crude oil to the oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The most controversial part of the Dakota Access Pipeline crosses under Missouri river just a half mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Just the construction would damage and destroy many cultural sites, and if there is an oil spill near the crossing it would contaminate the water that those in the reservation and the millions of people downstream rely on. 

On the other hand, it lowers the transportation cost by up to $10 per barrel of oil, the DAPL would create up to 12,000 jobs and it would help the local economy.The pipeline was originally going to cross the Missouri river at North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck, but then the pipeline was rerouted because of the threat it posed to the city’s water supply. Now it poses a threat to the residents of the reservation and the millions who live downstream, yet the project was approved and completed.

Some people believe that oil spills are rare occurrences, but in the first 6 months of the Dakota Access Pipeline transporting crude oil there were five separate oil spills –one on March 3, 2017 in Watford City, North Dakota, spilling around 84 gallons of crude oil. Another just two days later in Zap, North Dakota, spilled an estimated 20 gallons. The third on April 4, 2017 in Tulare, South Dakota released 84 gallons of crude oil into the surrounding area. The fourth that same month on the 23rd in Patoka, III in Indiana spilled the biggest amount so far, 168 gallons. The most recent spill on November 14, 2017 in Cambridge, Iowa, spilling 21 gallons was caused by “excessive vibration.” Luckily, none of these oil spills contaminated any bodies of water, but the threat is real.

The alternate option is to continue to transport oil by truck or train, both of which create greenhouse gasses just to transport the oil from point A to point B. The trucks and trains can both crash and explode spilling up to 7,000 gallons of crude oil, devastating the nearby habitat and killing anyone close to the blast.

Or we could strive for better. We could decide that it’s not worth having a pipeline that would deepen our reliance on fossil fuels for generations to come. It’s not worth having a pipeline that will poison our water. If we can invest $3.7 billion on fossil fuel, why can’t we invest that same amount in clean, renewable energy?  Even though the pipeline is already in use, in the words of Dave Archambault II “Just because oil is flowing now doesn’t mean it can’t be stopped.”

Recently a few of my classmates and I conducted a survey. Every single person knew that global warming is real, not a hoax, and that humans are responsible for speeding the process of global warming up. When asked whether transporting crude oil by train/truck was better than the Dakota Access Pipeline many were unsure. After reading this article I hope you have a clearer answer.