by Nicole Eisenberg
Finally, the $3.7 billion Dakota Access pipeline project, which was planned to run oil across four states and through sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, will now be rereouted. On Sunday the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to part of the protesters’ demands to find a new path, after months of intense and relentless protesting.
Based on the 1851 treaty signed at Fort Laramie, there were 38 miles of Sioux land that conflicted with the pipeline’s blueprints. But, instead of destroying sacred burial grounds, the Dakota Access pipeline construction is now forced to find a new path, effectively protecting the tribal lands.
For months, hundreds of protesters have gathered from around the world, refusing to let an environmentally threatening oil pipe overcome a historic area. The heroic protesters suffered aggressive encounters with the police in below-freezing weather. Together, they endured tear gas, frigid water hoses, and nearly 575 arrests, according to cbsnews.com. There have been several threats by the Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, neither of which deterred the brave and relentless demonstrators. Protesters united despite differing intentions.
Although the protesters have made significant headway with saving the Sioux tribal issues, rerouting the oil pipe fails to solve the major environmental concerns. The transportation of crude oil has a dangerous potential to contaminate water resources and infringe on the well-being of fish. The pipeline is still planned to take up earth below the Missouri River, which is an essential source of drinking water for the tribe. According to the Sierra Club, the pipeline also could pollute Iowa’s streams, rivers, lakes and aquifers while destroying farmlands and harming wildlife.
Not only will this pipeline potentially impact drinking water, agriculture and livestock, but it also will perpetuate the American reliance on fossil fuels. Our nation, and the world as a whole, need to deviate entirely from the dependence on crude oil and fossil fuels due to the deteriorating environment. We need to move toward a more environmentally friendly way of living, building a stronger solar energy infrastructure and decreasing emissions.
Redesigning the pipeline for the tribe’s sacred purposes should be just the start of much-needed change. From climate change concerns to questions over potential oil leaks, the benefits of the pipeline will never come close to overpowering the extremely harmful and everlasting effects that it will have on our climate.