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Dakota Access, pipeline protest, Minneapolis
On October 25, 2016, about 200 people gathered outside Minneapolis City Hall to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The planned pipeline will transport 470,000 barrels of oil per day 1,172 miles from North Dakota to Illinois. Protesters called for a stop of the pipeline construction which will pass upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation. Along with the threat to their water supply, the tribe claims the pipeline will destroy burial sites and sacred places. Photo courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

Will the Dakota Access pipeline be re-routed?

Re-route the pipeline? A new solution for the dispute near Standing Rock is now on the table, says President Barack Obama. The Huffington Post reported today that Obama commented late Tuesday night on the dispute to the online news site Now This.

“My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline,” Obama said in the video interview.

Yet ABC News’s Catherine Thorbecke reported that the construction of the pipeline is “likely past the point of no return.” A change in the pipeline’s route would “incur massive costs and logistical obstacles.” Winter construction is only one of those obstacles. New permits and land grants would be another.

According to Afolabi Ogunnaike, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie, geography is also an obstacle. Sometimes rerouting a pipeline just isn’t practical when considering the landscape.

Yet if this pipeline, or any pipeline, isn’t built, what are the alternatives? Rail transport and trucking are more expensive than pipelines, and experts generally agree pipelines are safer.  The route of the Energy Transfer Partners Dakota Access Pipeline takes oil directly from the Bakken to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

But don’t consider the story over. The DAPL argument is likely only just the beginning over pipeline protests in America, with involvement from both groups and individuals from across the country. Movie stars and presidential candidates, along with environmental activists and local citizens have engaged in the debate that has gone from local to international. Stay tuned.

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