The Pipeline Updates

Braden Hamelin, Staff Writer

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A few days after taking office, President Trump wrote a letter of support for two oil pipelines across the Western part of the country. The Dakota Access Pipeline is one of them, which is a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline project that begins in the Bakken shale oil fields in northwest North Dakota and continues in a straight line south-east, through South Dakota and Iowa, ending at the oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois. The other is the Keystone XL Pipeline, which is an oil pipeline system in Canada and the United States that runs from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

While Trump is unable to actually approve the construction of the pipelines himself, the presidential memorandums that he sent out is a strong voice of encouragement for the continued construction of the pipelines.  The Dakota Access is owned and maintained by several private companies while the Keystone XL is under the ownership of a private military contractor.

While the pipelines do provide many benefits in areas of oil transportation and creation of jobs as well as use of American made steel for construction and repair, they could have devastating environmental impacts. The construction would tear up forests and be right by water sources. This means soil erosion and contaminated water are very real possibilities for areas the pipeline goes through.

The construction projects were put on halt in 2016 because of environmental concerns and protests, most notably by the Sioux people in North Dakota, who had multiple complaints about being removed from land the pipeline was set to go over, as well as the fact that the pipeline went over ancient burial grounds. The Army also canceled their Keystone Project in order to get a review together for the final section of the project.

This has also been an interesting show of police response to protests, peaceful and violent alike. Protestors have been accused of setting fires and trespassing on private properties. Police response, however has prompted UN to speak about the use of excessive force during protests. They have employed freezing water, rubber bullets, bean bag rounds, and even sound cannons. Reports have said that protestors who were arrested were placed in makeshift chain link fences which strongly resemble dog cages.

This pipeline, controversial and aggressively expanding, has caused many problems so far, and seems set to cause many more. Even with presidential support it seems up in the air on whether or not either pipeline will be fully completed, but it will be an interesting battle from both sides, with everyone losing something in the process.

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The Pipeline Updates