DAPL rears it’s ugly head…

Nov 23, 2023
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I’m sure just about everyone can remember the Dakota Access Pipeline protests that took place in 2016 and 2017. They lasted a long time and things got ugly. I’m sure some of you reading this were involved in it in some way.


First responders were sent, law enforcement was sent, protestors came from all over the U.S. and Canada and they all stayed there for a very long time. That placed a lot of stress on the locals; those people living in Morton County south of Mandan who sometimes couldn’t get to their homes and farms because of road blocks.


DAPL was recently in the news again. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe wants a review of the easement in which the pipeline is built and/or to have it shut down altogether.


During a TV news program, someone with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suggested there are five options in which to move forward. One of them is to continue as is, one is to indeed, shut down the pipeline and another, which may be the most significant, is to move the pipeline north where it would cross the Missouri River upstream of Bismarck.


Any messages we see from the Corps of Engineers, the state of North Dakota or Energy Transfer Partners paint the picture of the pipeline being completely safe and is the best way to transport crude oil from the Bakken to Illinois.


It’s certainly safer than seeing freight trains exploding, but there have been reports of leaks. According to the state of Iowa and the Des Moines Register, there have been at least five minor leaks in the pipeline, but they have all been in Iowa and points southeast.


That said, the pipeline crosses the Missouri River about a half mile north of the Standing Rock boundary and that was specifically the reason for the protests. But it wasn’t just about potential leaks. It included the possibility of the easement disturbing Indian burial sites.


Consider the state of Iowa and the Des Moines Register to both be credible sources regarding these leaks that have happened in the past five years since the pipeline went operational. What’s next?


So let’s assume the Corps would want to move the pipeline north of Bismarck. What do you think would happen?
It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out that the Bismarck City Commission and the residents of Bismarck would be furious to allow that pipeline to cross north of town because Bismarck’s water supply comes from two sources on the Missouri River.


It’s interesting the Corps would even consider that option. But for argument’s sake let’s assume that happens.
Energy Transfer faces a litany of regulations as this pipeline operates. There have been numerous lawsuits because of it. Some landowners in Iowa sued the government to stop the easement across their property. Maybe this would prove once and for all that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had a legitimate complaint about the possible damage to the reservation should there be a leak underneath the Missouri River.


There can be an endless amount of “what ifs” in this scenario. Likewise, what if that Bakken train didn’t explode in Lac Megantic, Quebec, what if Amoco didn’t have to clean up a massive oil spill near Tioga, what if refineries were built where the oil is rather than transporting it thousands of miles?


There’s no doubt, oil is a huge money generator for North Dakota. It transformed a dying state into one of vibrance within a couple of years.


But the oil companies; all of them, have a responsibility to report spills immediately and take the appropriate action to mitigate the risk. We want to see oil transported to market in a safe way, but because there have been spills of oil and salt water, as well as fires, the public at large is skeptical because it generally takes days, sometimes weeks for a spill or fire to be made public.


So, perhaps the Corps should move the crossing north of Bismarck. Then, the drinking water for more than 100,000 people becomes potentially at risk. Would you want a major oil pipeline crossing the river upstream of your drinking water supply?

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