Dakota Access Pipeline: What It Is And How You Can Help

What the project is: The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a 1,172-mile pipeline that is stretching from the production areas of Bakken and Three Forks in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline will enable domestically produced crude oil to be transported to major refining markets in a safer, cheaper, and environmentally responsible way by reducing the current use of rail and truck transportation of crude oil from Bakken to major U.S. markets.


Capacity: The pipeline’s capacity of crude oil transport runs as high as 570,000 barrels a day. National benefits of the pipeline are increased domestic control and independence over natural resources. The pipeline will result in greater energy independence for crude oil so that extraction of oil and resources from the Middle East are reduced or even stopped.


Why the pipeline? The purpose of the pipeline project is to safely transport crude oil that exists in the U.S. from North Dakota to Illinois in a way that is environmentally as well as economically sound in order to continue to support U.S. consumers’ energy needs. The U.S. still imports half of the oil it consumes everyday and the pipeline is meant to be used as a crucial way to end our dependence of energy from foreign exports. Every barrel of crude oil produced and transported in the U.S. replaces every barrel of imported foreign oil.


Benefits: Environmental and economic benefits of the pipeline project lie in the reduction of crude oil that is shipped by truck or train. Gas resources wasted on trucks and rail as well as time, energy, and consumption that are used on truck and train transportation methods would be eliminated with the pipeline. The pipeline would safely and efficiently transport oil and energy to the public without the constraints of the more economically and environmentally straining truck and train transport methods.


Where is it? The pipeline’s $3.78 billion project has its starting point at the Bakken and Three Forks regions of North Dakota and runs through South Dakota, Iowa and ends in the Patoka region of Illinois, where it will join up with existing pipelines and major U.S. crude refineries to transport oil to the Gulf and the East Coast. The Army Corps of Engineers, who issued the permit to begin work on the mega-pipeline in July, approved the project with a fast-track option that allows it to run under the Missouri River.


Who is it hurting? Despite the economic and environmental benefits that the pipeline poses for the U.S., the dangers and apprehensions of the pipeline’s position and impact on indigenous people cannot be ignored. The reality of the pipeline project is that it runs near the Standing Rock Sioux (say it with me, “Sue”) Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Sioux tribe says that the pipeline disturbs sacred sites and burial grounds and violates past treaties made with the government and tribal sovereignty. The Missouri River happens to be the main source of water for the Sioux reservation. Therefore, there are fears that the pipeline poses a great danger to the Sioux’s water supply because it runs beneath the Missouri River. In the past, indigenous peoples have experienced oil spillage from pipelines that have polluted their water supplies. Natives of the Standing Rock reservation are fearful that contamination from the Dakota Access Pipeline may wreak havoc on their lives as other pipelines have done in the past.


The protests.  Protests and outrage for the pipeline project started in January after North Dakota approved the project to begin. Immediately after news broke out of the state’s approval, residents of the Standing Rock Reservation petitioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the permit to begin work. In April, protesters and residents gathered and set up camp near the construction site. In mid-July, a youth protest group by the name of “Rezpect Our Water” set out a 500-mile relay from the reservation to Washington, D.C. to deliver a petition of 160,000 signatures. Since then, hundreds of protesters have gathered at Standing Rock to try and stop construction from starting.


What YOU can do.  Since the protests began in July, hundreds have been arrested, fallen victim to police violence and brutality, and endured incredibly low temperatures and injuries from the weather. Despite clashes with the weather and law enforcement, many protesters are insisting that they are standing their ground indefinitely, even though they have been warned by law enforcement to evacuate the area by Dec. 5th This means that they will be protesting well into the winter months.


  1. Sign the petition and/or create one.






  1. Send supplies.









  1. Call and voice yourselves.


North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, at 701-328-2200.


The White House, at 202-456-1111.


Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline owner ― Lee Hanse, executive vice president, 210-403-6455; Glenn Emery, vice president, 210-403-6762; Michael (Cliff) Waters, lead analyst, 713-989-2404. 

Army Corps of Engineers, which issued the permit allowing construction of the pipeline, even though it would cross under the Missouri River within a half-mile of the Sioux reservation boundary, at 202-761-5903.


There is power in people and there is always help to be received. The Sioux people are in fear of losing control and quality of living on their reservation, but there are ways that our voices and our energy can be used to help their cause.

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