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Are Dakota Pipeline Protestors Twisting the Facts?

by Elizabeth Alford on September 21, 2016

Conflict surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline has escalated over the last few weeks as protests have become more aggressive and even violent, causing the federal government to step in.

Related: Dalrymple at Odds with Sioux Tribe Over Pipeline

The debate over the 1,172-mile pipeline has pitted oil and gas with local concerns about the environmental impact of the pipeline, including contamination of the Missouri River, the primary water source for the Standing Rock Sioux. Tribal leaders are also upset that the pipeline will disturb sacred burial grounds. But at least one expert says that the facts are being blurred.

“The protests might also give the false impression that Native American tribes had no input to the project. The public record shows that they did. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held 389 meetings with 55 tribes to discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe met with the corps nearly a dozen times to discuss archaeological issues and to help finalize the pipeline’s route.” – Hill.com

The article goes on to say that the pipeline route does not enter the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation. The route was approved by the state Historic Preservation Office, which issued a “no significant sites affected” determination in February. In fact, the author says it is impossible for an ancient burial to even exist in the fill that covers transmission and oil lines.

In July, Dalrymple characterized the protests as ‘significant public safety concerns’ when up to 1500 people  gathered where the pipeline is scheduled to cross the Missouri River, near Cannonball and hundreds more marched on the state capital. At least 29 arrested during recent demonstrations. Currently things are at a stand still after the U.S. Justice Department and other federal agencies intervened to delay construction.

Construction on the 1,172-mile pipeline project came to a halt over the Labor Day weekend when demonstrations turn violent. What had been peaceful gatherings turned ugly after Energy Transfer Partners allegedly used bulldozers to destroy sacred tribal sites.

Even amidst the controversy, Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the project, has publicly stated they are still committed to completing the pipeline.

“This case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects,” the U.S. Departments of Justice, Army and Interior said in a joint statement.”

The pipeline project is designed to transporting more than 470,000 barrels per day of crude oil through four states into Illinois before it hooks up to another pipeline down to Texas.

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