Pipeline poses threat to the environment

By Andrea Anastassov , Columnist

During the past few months, the construction site of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota has been overrun with protests, sit-ins, campaigns and many arrests.

Even this week, protesters continue to push for the end of construction. All the while, arrests haven’t stopped and publicity of the project continues to grow. It’s another example of the age-old battle between environmentalists and corporate America.

There has always been controversy about whether or not society takes it too far with nature, and if humans are destroying the planet for selfish convenience. In some cases, natural resources must be used. In the case of Dakota Access Pipeline, we could be putting the planet at risk once again for our benefit.

The pipeline project was proposed by Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based company. It is projected to cost roughly $3.78 billion. If completed, the project will consist of a 1,172-mile underground pipeline that would carry up to 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois. The ultimate goal is to safely transfer crude oil to U.S. consumers and reduce reliance on foreign oil.

Dakota Access Pipeline has already raised objections and a couple of red flags, despite that the pipeline is underground. To try and avoid conflict, the company attempted to market the project as an environmentally friendly alternative for transporting oil instead of trains and trucks.

At first glance, this may seem like a good idea, but environmentalists and many Native American tribes were not fooled. One particular tribe based in North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux, has mounted an entire campaign along with many environmentalists to put a stop to this project.

Lawsuits were filed to halt construction soon after the project was approved. The objections included that the pipeline disrupted the environment. It would pose threat to the surrounding land because of oil spill risks.

The pipeline and its construction would not only effect the environment, but it would also cross over many sacred areas with historical and spiritual importance to many tribes. 

The pipeline is set to run directly under a lake near different reservations. If a spill were to occur, it would contaminate all the drinking water available to these people. But concerns have been completely overlooked by big corporations who have no respect for indigenous people.

They are not only disrespecting the traditions of local tribes, but they are putting people in danger and at risk. So there have been many recurring violent protests for over six months.

There are campsites near the construction of the pipeline set up specifically by protesters, who include members of over twelve different tribes. There have been many arrests and many standoffs with police officials.

Even celebrities, such as Shailene Woodley, have spoken out and joined protesters in the fight against the pipeline. Woodley was even arrested for her efforts.

Although these big corporations claim to be bettering society and building more efficient infrastructure, we cannot overlook that nature and people are at risk.

Not only are natural resources overused, but time and time again the environment comes second to society and it’s material needs. Our actions have consequences that many people choose to overlook.

Society’s needs are coming before the greater good of the environment, and this is unacceptable. In the case of the Dakota Access Pipeline, society and money are being made more important despite the environment being at risk of oil spills and the suffering of many indigenous tribes.

This is just one current example of how nature and American culture have evolved. The relationship between society and nature is one where we take and nature gives, until it can give no more. Humans act superior to the land and we put our needs above respecting the environment.

We need to reevaluate our collective relationship with nature before it is too late. There is no plan B planet, so we must take care of this one.

Andrea is a freshman in Media. 

[email protected]