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Which story is right? There are two sides to the Dakota Access pipeline story.

Dakota Access: Two Sides of the Story

The Dakota Access Pipeline continues to make headlines across the United States, especially since many celebrities have taken an interest in participating in the protests.

Protests have support from Hollywood in Leonardo DiCaprio, Susan Sarandon, Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley. Even Rev. Jesse Jackson was seen riding a horse around the protest site and camp.

EcoWatch reported in September the members of the Justice League endorsed Rezpect Our Water, a campaign launched by young members of the Standing Rock Tribe. The five stars– Ben Affleck, Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot, Jason Momoa and Ezra Miller—can be seen in a video urging people stand with them in opposing the pipeline.

Former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was even caught writing graffiti on construction equipment in opposition. Stein was charged with trespassing and vandalism charges.

Most recently, though, Grammy winning music superstar Neil Young visited Standing Rock. Rolling Stone reported that Young celebrated his 71st birthday.

Rolling Stone tells us that in September, Young unveiled his new protest song “Indian Givers,” which takes aim at the proposed and controversial Dakota Access Pipeline that cuts through Native American land. The track will appear on Young’s upcoming LP Peace Trail.

While these celebrities stand together with protesters, who claim the Dakota Access will harm drinking water and desecrate sacred sites, the Forum told another side of the story.

While the media reports have gained sympathy from activists in “an emotionally charged tale of greed, racism and misbehavior by corporate and government officials,” the Forum says protesters have skewed the story. The article discusses several attempts by the Army Corps of Engineers to consult with tribal officials, which contradicts rhetoric by protesters who say the Corps was unresponsive when the Standing Rock Sioux pursed meetings.

In September 2014 alone, the Corps made five unsuccessful attempts to meet with Standing Rock Sioux leaders. The next month, a meeting was arranged, but “when the Corps timely arrived for the meeting, Tribal Chairman David Archambault told them that the conclave had started earlier than planned and had already ended,” according to a federal judge.

However, the cries for clean water are some of the loudest of the protesters. “Water is life” read the protest signs. But what many articles don’t say is that Energy Transfer Partners is paying for the relocation of the tribe’s water intake to a new spot 70 miles from the contested pipeline crossing, and 45 miles south of the current intake at Fort Yates. Since the water intake relocation has been in the works for over a decade due to old age and much needed repairs, it seems that the pipeline actually helped pay for the clean water for the reservation rather than polluting it.

With the facts about the 1,172-mile pipeline completely misinterpreted, sensationalized, and skewed by social media and even many news outlets, most people have no idea anymore what’s right or wrong, what’s fact or fiction. What we do know is that the pipeline is almost finished, and pipeline transport of oil is considered safer than its transport by truck or rail. In addition, 100 percent of North Dakota landowners affected by the pipeline voluntarily signed easements that allow construction.

However, according to the Forum article, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II said he doesn’t support moving oil out of North Dakota at all because he favors development of renewable sources of energy, so whether pipelines are safer than rail doesn’t seem to matter much if the oil stays in the ground.

But realistically, it’s unlikely that energy companies are going to stop drilling for oil or natural gas anytime soon. The Bakken formation has huge reserves of oil, and the North Dakota rig count has been creeping up slowly after a two year long slump, indicating more exploration and production in the Bakken. Production also remains strong at near a million barrels a day. With world demand for oil and refined products made from it, we’ll also likely continue to hear the chant “Drill Baby Drill” just as loudly as “Water is Life.”

There must be a compromise. It’s hard to believe that most protesters don’t use or support some form of fossil fuel usage. Those on the opposite end likely don’t want to damage the environment, either. Isn’t there any middle ground? What is evident is that something has to be done before more damage is done, especially after gunshots over the weekend prompted investigations by the Morton County Sheriff’s Department. Reuters reports that North Dakota authorities are investigating a weekend incident in which pipeline protesters said a woman was struck by a man driving a truck who drove over her feet and fired shots into the air. Last month, a protester was charged with attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

What do you think should happen next?


  1. What should happen next? First of all, as a matter of justice under American law, a final decision should be rendered regarding the rights of the Sioux peoples vis-à-vis the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. That treaty is still legally in effect. Second, North Dakota should begin a massive program to develop “clean” sources of energy. That program would be funded by taxes levied on oil and gas ressources leaving the state and on profits made by individuals selling their oil rights. Third, a temporary compromise should be made between the current need for fossil fuel energy and the need to keep water sources clean. Much stricter state laws need to be legislated regarding pollution caused by the oil industry and water pollution caused not only by the oil industry, but also by various communities living in North Dakota’s part of the Missouri River basin. Finally, an inviolable, North Dakota State sovereign trust fund must be respected so that, when outside interests no longer have any interest in North Dakota (as has happened time and again in other parts of the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain region) there will be a shield to protect future generations living in your state. It’s time to think longer term.

  2. Great article, I live in MN and have been out in the Bakken a few times, since my husband works out there. I have seen numerous interviews on how the protestors are being treated but how about how the protestors are treating the residence of that area? This article is great, more people should see it. Thanks!

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