Will the Dakota Access Pipeline Access the Bakken Oil Fields?

In what may become a repeat of the Keystone XL debate, protestors are gearing up to fight the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Anticipating retaliation, pipeline protesters emptied shelves once filled with mace, wasp repellent, spray paint and other deterrents, said Bismarck resident Lane Buwalda.

A medical technician at CHI St. Alexius Hospital, Buwalda spent this past weekend on call to operate a detoxification room in the event of large exposure to chemical irritants.

“As a Christian hospital, we are called to accept any patients, regardless of their stance on the DAPL, and to treat them as Jesus would,”  said Buwalda. He was never called in.

However, although this protests didn’t end in violence, the fight is far from over.

The 30-inch pipeline, planned and managed by Dakota Access LLC., will span 1,172 mi., from the Bakken Oil Fields in NW North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois, transferring 470,000 barrels of oil per day. The pipeline will cover four states and is projected to offer an annual tax revenue of $129 million for state and local governments.

The company totes that the 470,000 barrels of oil, running through the pipeline at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, will significantly reduce the shortage of rail cars and create room to transport grain. Considering Bakken field oil production has more than tripled over the past four years, some question the pipeline’s actual impact.

Protests are taking place in various forms. Prior to the Iowa caucus, Rand Paul’s campaign distributed signs reading, “Stop Eminent Domain Abuse” in reference to Dakota Access gaining land rights via eminent domain. Also, a Facebook group called the Bakken Pipeline Resistance posts steadily about how the pipeline has endangered the Des Moines River ecosystem for months.

National spotlight recently detected the protests as a large concentration of Native Americans are organizing near a section of the pipeline that borders the Standing Rock Reservation. The tribe worries that construction will disturb sacred burial grounds and that crude oil from the pipeline will contaminate the Missouri river, the tribe’s source of water. In August, a group of teens from the reservation ran all the way to the U.S. Capitol to deliver a petition signed by thousands requesting construction of the pipeline be halted. Upon their arrival, no one was present to hear their appeal, yet their efforts inspired many more to join the protests.

Protestors are intensifying as individuals are creating human barricades and some have chained themselves to the heavy machinery. Jill Stein, the Green Party’s White House candidate, joined protestors in spray painting a bull dozer blade. If charged with vandalism, Stein may be eliminated from the presidential race.

Concerned about protests becoming violent, the Obama administration halted construction via three different federal agencies in charge of the project. Yet the Standing Rock tribe continues its fight, recently suing the Army Corps of Engineers and federal judge who approved construction of the pipeline.

In the meantime, hundreds of individuals and families in Bismarck are without places to stay, food to eat or gas to put in their vehicles as they try to figure out their next steps.

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