The highly disputed debate over the Dakota Access Pipeline is not ending anytime soon. On Tuesday, February 7th of this week, the Army Corps of Engineers approved the construction of the pipeline. Just a few days into his presidency, President Donald Trump had signed two executive orders in favor of continuing construction, one for the Keystone pipeline and one for the Dakota Access pipeline – both of which were halted by former President Barack Obama.
The main reason Trump has stated he, and much of the country, supports these pipelines being built is because of the creation of several thousand jobs for the American people, since the materials are supposed to be made locally. Backers of these two projects propose that the pipelines will lessen the U.S.’s dependency on Middle Eastern countries for oil, and instead be reliant on domestic companies here and in Canada.
Opponents of the two pipelines tend to be environmentalists, claiming that the effects of the pipelines will use more energy than other forms of retrieving oil. One of the reasons that DAPL was stopped during Obama’s term was because the environmental impact review needed more time for investigation and research on how the pipeline would really affect its surroundings. Before Obama left office, the status of the route was that it would be best to form a new route – one that does not go through Native American lands. Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, other tribes, and activists have been fighting against this project since last year, mainly on the terms that it was going through their sacred lands, had potential to break and spill oil, and contaminate their and the surrounding areas’ drinking water. The Army Corps has just been directed to expedite its review of the route by President Trump in his executive order.
With little time to take legal action, Standing Rock “water protectors” have promised that they would do so directly after the president’s signing of this order. This will be extremely difficult to do, since the protestors have been ignored. It is not stopping the people who are still on the front-lines. Dozens of people have been arrested most recently along the route of DAPL, and the arrests are continuing to happen as long as protestors are still there on now “private land”.
On a national level, more and more activists, organizations, groups, and even cities have partaken in opposing the construction of DAPL. After the announcement on February 7, Seattle, WA became the first city to cut off its ties to Wells Fargo, protesting their involvement with the DAPL. Wells Fargo has investments in the pipeline and the company building it. The members of the city council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance that ends their almost twenty-year relationship with the bank within the next year.
Although the battle to divert DAPL away from Standing Rock seemed to end during Obama’s presidency, President Trump has put a entirely new spin on this controversial pipeline.