Decision Pending in Dakota Access Pipeline Federal Hearing

A three-judge panel in a Washington, D.C. Federal court listened to oral arguments on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2016, in the lawsuit brought by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe seeking an injunction against further construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline pending a more extensive survey by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the “indirect” effects of the 1,136 mile pipeline.

In the October 5 hearing, the judges who listened to the oral arguments of attorneys for both DAPL and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe questioned why the indigenous people had not participated in surveys with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the past when invited to do so. The panel is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks after the Corps of Engineers reviews the process that was used prior to providing permits to DAPL for construction.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story. In a situation as complex as the one surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, there are more than two sides, or at least many different ways of looking at it.

The DAPL, as the oil pipeline is called, is a project of several companies working through Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas. The project aims to transport oil from the fracking industry in the Bakken area of North Dakota to refineries in southern Illinois.

DAPL is not as ambitious a project as the famed Keystone XL pipeline that was intended to transport tar sands from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, but it has many of the same concerns from both sides of the argument.

  • Jobs for those building the pipeline is one concern
  • Investments of the companies associated with the pipeline in construction already underway plus the costs of planning and other start-up activities
  • Pipelines such as DAPL will help the United States to decrease its dependence on oil from foreign countries, according to those building the pipeline

Those who oppose the DAPL have many of the same concerns as was true of the potential Keystone XL pipeline, many of which stem from concerns about the effects such a pipeline could have on the environment.

Unlike the Keystone XL Pipeline, there is little media or political attention being given the DAPL on a national level. Those who are leading the fight against DAPL and for clean water are the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who have been joined by more than 300 additional tribes of Native Americans standing in solidarity against the construction of the DAPL.

The Standing Rock Sioux stand to lose their clean water source, Lake Oahe, under which the DAPL is slated to run. Standing Rock is concerned about the potential leaks associated with any oil pipeline. Such a leak into either the Missouri River which feeds clean water into Lake Oahe, or into the lake itself would destroy the tribe’s only source of clean water.

In addition, the Native Americans have voiced concerns about the “indirect” destructive effects of the DAPL on sacred lands and culturally important artifacts.

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