Whenever a pipeline is set for construction, debates arise between those who favor environmental protection and those who favor energy independence. The Keystone XL Pipeline still remains a big topic of discussion during the presidential primaries as there have been plans to expand it into new phases. While the KXL Pipeline still remains a topic of discussion, a lesser known pipeline is not being mentioned by many.
A new pipeline set be be constructed, known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL for short) will run from North Dakota to Illinois. DAPL is set to be constructed by a private company, Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. Those who support the pipeline argue that it will help the United States move closer to being energy independent and create jobs. But how many full time jobs will this pipeline create once construction ends? Forty. Not four hundred, not four thousand. Forty.
While it may sound appealing to add jobs to the economy, the fact is that only forty jobs will be created, therefore there will be no real impact on unemployment in the states where the pipeline is running through. Economic impact is not even the real issue, the issue is that the Dakota Access Pipeline runs through tribal land in South Dakota, and poses the risk of contaminating drinking water.
Throughout American history, Native Americans have not always been treated so well. Many were killed by Christopher Columbus and his men, and later on during the 1800s Natives were forced by President Jackson to move westward so the United States could expand. Hundreds of years later, Native Americans are still being treated poorly by the United States government. Reports also suggest that DAPL would run through resting sites of perished Native Americans.
Pipelines also have a tendency to break. The Colonial Pipeline in Georgia recently bursted, and spilt over 250 thousand gallons of oil. This contaminates drinking water and destroys the land where the spill occurs. Environmental activists are worried about DAPL potentially bursting; DAPL runs down the Missouri River, and if the pipeline bursts, it will contaminate the water supply for over a million Americans.
There has been a large number of protestors at the construction site of DAPL. The private company building the pipeline has used attack dogs and pepper spray to stop protesters, with their rationalization being that it is their “private property.”
President Obama has halted the construction of the pipeline, but has not permanently stopped construction. No one knows when or if this pipeline will be constructed. But what is known is that what happens with this pipeline will happen throughout the country.
This issue is not about being a Republican or Democrat. It is about whether or not we will stand together and stop potential contamination of our drinking water. Water is a necessity, not a luxury.