Dakota Access pipeline: Economic Stimulant or Environmental Threatening?

by why.not.coconut on May 5, 2017 - 11:24pm

In his article “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why”, Jack Healy explains the issue surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota and what are the different points of view about this project. The paragraphs below will summarize what he had to say on this issue.

This oil pipeline project encountered a lot of protestations since the beginning of its construction. The contestations came from the fact that its trail is supposed to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes’ ancestral lands and to pass under the Missouri River.

The people fighting against this project are mostly from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Other indigenous have joined their fight. But they are not the only ones: some farmers are fighting to keep the pipeline away from their lands. Indeed, the pipeline’s path is planned to cross some of the farmers’ lands.

The opponents argue that this project is a “major environmental and cultural threat” (Healy). They are worried that the Dakota Access pipeline spills or even breaks, which could result into pollution of the North Dakota lands and of the Missouri River. Moreover, the Standing Rock Sioux state that the pipeline’s path would cross their ancestral and sacred lands (these lands are not part of their reservation).

On the other hand, the people who support this project argue that the Dakota Access pipeline would allow a safe carriage of the oil, stimulate local economy and create 8 000 to 12 000 construction jobs.

In my opinion, the battle of the Standing Rock Sioux is honorable. I stand by their side. I think the disadvantages of this project outweigh the advantages. Since when should we choose economy over ecology? Maybe my argument will sound poor to some of you, but let me explain what I mean by that. The project’s economic benefits will be of short duration compare to its environmental consequences. It will stimulate the economy, creates thousands of jobs and will satisfy the oil’s consumers. But in the long run, who will it benefits? Surely not the earth, since the extraction, the carriage and the consumption of oil is harmful for the environment. The problem with this is that we are living on the earth, and its problems are ours too. If the earth has “health” problems, so do we. As the Standing Rock Sioux said, the Dakota Access pipeline is threatening the environment. If it breaks or even spills, the short terms advantages will not matter so much compared to the long-term disadvantages. If the lands and the water are polluted with oil, it is our health that will be put at risk. I think that my worldview comes from the fact that education increasingly values the respect of the environment and that it motivates us to be eco-friendly. Also, we learned a lot about the indigenous community and how their lands were taken away. As a modern society, I think that we should not repeat our past mistakes and that we should not steal the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lands.

However, some would say that these lands are not part of their reservation, which is true. What do you think about that? Since these lands are not under the indigenous community authority, do you think that it allows the government to accept a project that would destroy and threatened their sacred lands?



Healy, Jack. “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why.” The New York Times, August 26, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/02/us/north-dakota-oil-pipeline-battle-whos-fighting-and-why.html. Accessed April 31st, 2016.


Your post's topic is the primary reason for this comment as I have made my worldview comparison essay on this specific issue and the whole controversy around the pipeline is quite interesting to me. Although you state your argument as poor, I do think it was perfectly well structured and had a strong argumental value to it. Just like you, I do feel that the safety of natural environment should be a priority by now and valued over economic growth. I stand by this opinion as scientific research and papers on global warming have indeed changed my mind about oil exploitation and pollution. Yet, supporters of the pipeline bring out a strong argument about the pipeline's safety. You have not stated this in your text, but transportation of crude oil by pipeline is much safer than by train, and if the pipeline was not constructed, the oil transported by the Dakota Acess pipeline at the present would have been moved around by train and, therefore greatly increase the risk of an accident. By constructing the pipeline, the risk of spill and disastrous accident is overall lowered. However, I do think oil consumption should be gradually lowered and big oil corporation should think about transitioning from oil exploitation to renewable energy sources, which are gaining more and more popularity and should be a rather good source of economic growth and a safe investment. Someone should make a big move on renewable energy and oil companies are the one that should do it. I believe this on a purely economic and profit making viewpoint, it is the best option for them as oil exploitation rate will only be plummeting from this point on and so will their profits. They need to find a new sector of investment and that could be green energy. It would benefit them and the environment. Would there other more effective solutions regarding global warming and our dependence of oil as a developed society?

Sorry for double posting.

Hi why.no.coconut. Firstly, I appreciated your reasoning and your writing style. The explanations provided to defend your points were clear and interesting.
I recognize that the creation of a pipeline has many environmental and social consequences. However, I also agree that there are economic benefits and that the creation of a pipeline is not as dangerous for the environment as it seems. In order to defend this point, we need to look at other ways of transportation and to compare potential risks and consequences. For example, there are many risks associated with oil’s transportation by trucks, train and boats. Trucks only transport a negligible amount of oil compared to pipelines, and release harmful gases in the environment during transportation. Trains transport more oil, but also increases the risk of explosion as it is a flammable fluid. Thus, catastrophes are possible and could trigger social and environmental consequences as well, and an example of it would be the incident in Lac Mégantic in 2013. Other ways also pose environmental threats and I feel it is important to weigh consequences of each way of transportation before saying that a pipeline is dangerous for the environment. Human activities will continue to rely on the oil industry, and I agree with you that we should assure the environment’s sustainability before anything else but I don’t believe that the creation of a pipeline poses a significant threat. I think that the economic benefits and the few environmental risks associated with the creating of a pipeline are sufficient reasons to prove that it is the more responsible way to transport oil. After reading this, what do you think of the pipeline Energy East that will transport 1.1 million barrels of oil on daily basis throughout Canada?

I choose to read your summary because your subject is interesting me but oddly I make part of the people who think that the project of pipeline is a good idea and therefore I will try to show you my point of view on this matter. I do not agree with your opinion stating that we should not construct the pipeline because it could damage the environment as I think that the government should consider the project. Indeed, I strongly believe that there are more pros than cons in the construction of the pipeline as that will seriously increase the economic aspect and will provide 8 000 to 12 000 jobs. More than that, concerning the negative effects and potential leakage of the pipeline, these can be easily manageable. The fact that the pipeline will pass through an ancestral territory could simply be resolved by a re-evaluation if the pipeline’s track in order to avoid the ancestral land. In addition, the possibility of a break or a leakage is very low because the pipelines are less likely to have spillage or accidents than trains. For instance, as an example, “transferring oil by pipeline is less likely to result in spills or accidents, avoiding incidents like the May 2015 derailment of a train carrying crude oil that resulted in a fiery crash and forced the evacuation of a North Dakota town” (Dakota Access Pipeline: Top 3 Pros and Cons). Also, the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline will help the United States to become more energy independent as the US currently possess 2.5 million miles of oil and gas pipelines. Because of the pipeline transportation, there is an important reduction of oil transportation by boat as there will be fewer imports of oil from foreign countries as the Middle East, and Russia. In brief, the construction of the pipeline in North Dakota will be effective.
Do you think that these arguments and solutions are strong enough to encourage people to believe in the construction of the pipeline?


This topic is such a heated issue for several reasons, which is why I chose to comment. I like how you present both side of the parties, giving both the cons and pros. Your opinion is really clear and we know where you stand because you used very clear examples and defended your point with well supported arguments.
I 100% stand by this opinion, as I am against pipelines for the same reasons, yes it will help the economy but the environmental effects will be so much worst. So, like you said, if the earth is unhealthy, then so are we. There are so many alternatives, such as the new development of renewable energy sources which could change are world for the better, making a healthy new path for the generations to come.
Most of the time these people are like yeah but it won’t affect us, it’ll effect our grandchildren’s children… but that’s still human race that we are setting up for destruction just to “improve” the economy. Have we really come all this way just to destroy all that we have built up to as humans? This topic really makes you question all your beliefs and values when it comes to earths well being.

The reason I choose to comment on this because I was following The Dakota pipeline battle and I even signed the petition for former President Obama. It is an interesting issue because of the situation between the indigenous people and Caucasians. The fact that the indigenous people have to battle for their rights again is disturbing. Can we just leave them alone? It is their land , we just killed millions of them and stole it right in front of their eyes. Instead of growing together , we are causing yet another regression among st each other. Yes it will create jobs but those jobs will temporary and the numbers of those jobs will decrease each year. It is better economically for the country since it brings job and money even if its temporary. Ecologically though, it will damage the environment for years and years to come, when the climate changes and the temperature raises then who could we blame then us? It would cost billions of American tax payers money to solve those changes or to adjust oneself to them. Considering what has happened in the past , the pipeline could leak and damage the environment and the animals that are living there. Overall , I think It was a bad idea to continue with the pipeline, I know that the government forced the indigenous people to leave that area and continue to build it but hope they have change of mind and consider the effects on the environment.

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