The Obama administration on Friday halted a contentious 1,172-mile long pipeline that begins in North Dakota, for the time being.
The Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to move 470,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken region to refineries in states to the southwest, ending in Illinois. Activists from both Native American and climate circles have criticized the construction, while businesspeople and the Army Corps of Engineers work toward its completion.
Native American protesters are worried that the $3.7 billion pipeline will affect drinking water from the Missouri River and disturb sacred tribal sites. Climate protesters claim the DAPL is a reincarnation of the halted Keystone Pipeline System.
“(T)he proposed route was carefully designed to transport crude in the safest, most efficient way possible,” a DAPL website states.
“Working with engineers, agriculture experts and farmers, the Dakota Access team conducted on-the-ground surveys of the proposed route to ensure that the route had taken into consideration every aspect of the land in order to mitigate any risks.”
In April, the Standing Rock Sioux tribe began peacefully protesting the construction of the pipeline.
“Protestors have the right to assemble, protect and make their voices heard. However they do not have the right to disrupt traffic, close the road, trespass on private property, intimidate law enforcement, assault private security officers or disrupt legal activities,” Morton County sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in a news conference.
North Dakota State sophomore Brianna Provost said Morton County and other government officials have treated protesters poorly.
Provost, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said she has helped support the protesters through demonstrations and donations.
The quiet, rural areas of North Dakota have become a battleground for these protests.
“Many friends and neighbors are scared to travel far from their home,” NDSU senior Renae Tokach from nearby St. Anthony, N.D. said. “They are afraid they will have a run-in with protestors on certain roads or major construction areas.”
On Sept. 3, the protests became violent when protestors with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe were bitten by dogs from the Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, CBS reported.
Protestors were physically attaching themselves to the equipment and vandalizing company property. One person who was included in these actions was Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who now has a warrant out for her arrest in Morton County.
Hollywood stars such as Susan Sarandon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Shailene Woodely have pushed their support and stood beside the protestors.
“I don’t believe that we need to go in there and have physical altercations with protestors,” Kirchmeier said in a news conference, adding, “all along the safety of everyone involved, even the people doing illegal activities on private land on equipment is of concern.”
The Jamestown Sun reported that part of Highway 1806 southbound was closed due in part to protesters of the pipeline.
“They need to do what needs to be done so the roads are not closed and people can go about their daily lives,” Tokach said.
County officials have created a barricade around contested areas.
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg’s in Washington D.C. ordered a temporary stop to the construction along that particular section of the Dakota Access pipeline after the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s emergency request.
But by Friday, Boasberg ruled the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had not presented enough evidence that the Dakota Access Pipeline would cause irreparable harm to the tribe that the Court could prevent, and thus denied the tribe’s request to halt construction on the pipeline.
Shortly later in the day, the Obama administration stepped in and put a temporary halt on further construction.
Provost said the issue goes deeper than the pipeline.
“(The protest) was initially just the pipeline, but the way the government has decided to label these protest, and us, makes me feel like my life, my families lives don’t matter,” she said. “They are treating us like a third world country! We matter too!”
Energy Transfer Partners said that the pipeline would create 8,000 to 12,000 local jobs during the time of construction.
“During construction maybe a few people from the county got jobs but they were only part time jobs and when the pipeline is finished their job will be over,” Leier said.
“It’s one of those things where you put the pipeline in then forget about it,” said Emmons County resident Dion Senger. “It doesn’t have a great effect on the personal community.
“It helped the community with the company workers helping the local economy,” Senger said. “They populated the hotels, ate at local bars and restaurants and bought groceries from our stores.”
Provost said she thinks the pipeline, if completed, will cause further irreversible damage.
“I am against the DAPL because I want the next seven generations to have clean drinking water,” she said.