December 26 2016
Jillian Kay Melchior
If you’ve logged into social media in the past half year, odds are you’ve come across some mention of Standing Rock Sioux protests over the Dakota Access pipeline. The controversial infrastructure project has drawn thousands of demonstrators to rural North Dakota, with thousands more supporting their protest efforts on social media.
At 1,170 miles, Energy Transfer’s Dakota Access pipeline would be just 7 miles shorter than the defeated Keystone XL pipeline, which succumbed to similar pressure last year. Dakota Access would run from North Dakota to Illinois, transporting as much as 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily.
The vocal protestors opposed to the pipeline include Native Americans and environmental activists, as well as a handful of celebrities, including Jane Fonda, Mark Ruffalo, Shailene Woodly and Chris Hemsworth. They claim the pipeline could potentially destroy important Native American cultural sites, also polluting water and harming the environment.
Protestors say they won’t leave until the pipeline is nixed. As they occupy the land along the pipeline’s route, they’ve defied authorities, sometimes using violence, intimidation and other criminal behavior to oppose police and harass the local community.
So far, the pipeline has withstood legal challenges brought by the tribes. But in early December, the Obama administration denied an easement necessary for the pipeline’s completion—an obstacle that may well be reversed by the Trump administration. That would be good news for Americans who will benefit from this commonsense infrastructure project.