Great Sioux Nation Defends Its Waters From Dakota Access Pipeline

By Chelsey Luger

In the coming weeks or maybe even days, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will issue a decision as to whether or not they will allow the Dakota Access Pipeline, also known as the Bakken Pipeline, to be constructed.

Until then, citizens and allies of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation) will continue to protest the pipeline, urging stakeholders to recognize the devastation that would ensue should the pipeline be built.

“The DAPL poses a threat to our people, cultural and historically significant areas,” said Paula Antonie, Chair of Shielding the People and a Rosebud Sioux tribal citizen. “We will stand by our Hunkpapa relatives in defending against any major environmental, public health and safety hazards within our treaty territory.”

The proposed pipeline would stretch for thousands miles across four states beginning in western North Dakota and ending in Indiana. It would cross the Missouri River mere feet away from the northern border of the Standing Rock Reservation, threatening to contaminate and destroy the waters.

“When this proposed pipeline breaks, as the vast majority of pipelines do, over half of the drinking water in South Dakota will be affected,” said Joye Braun, a community organizer from the Cheyenne River reservation. “How can rubber-stamping this project be good for the people, agriculture and livestock? It must be stopped.”

While the oil industry would like the public to believe that pipelines are a clean and efficient way of transporting oil with little risk, the data suggest otherwise. According to the Associated Press, there were 300 oil pipeline breaks in North Dakota alone during 2012–2013, and none of them were reported to the public. North Dakota is the second-largest oil-producing state after Texas.

Delegates from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have already met with representatives from several federal agencies, including the Army Corps, urging them to reevaluate the environmental impact of the project. The interests of the Standing Rock Sioux were not taken into consideration in the initial environmental assessment. While the Corps decision will have an influence, it won’t be the end of the fight.

“The Corps will get sued either way,” explained Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault. “If they approve of the pipeline, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will sue them. If they reject it, Energy Transfer Partners will sue them.”

Archambault explained that unlike Keystone XL, which President Obama rejected last November, an executive order will not hold the same weight in this project. While Keystone XL was a federal project crossing the U.S.–Canada border, Dakota Access is a private project and does not cross an international boundary. In addition, most of the landowners along the way have already issued voluntary easements on their property.

Meanwhile, several grassroots groups, tribal citizens, and concerned allies who oppose the pipeline have banded together to work on getting their message out. This conglomerate of activists are calling themselves “Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po” or “People, Stand with a Strong Heart!” Their mission statement says this:

“ ‘They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.’ —Chief Sitting Bull. His way of life is our way of life—standing in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline is our duty.”

On April 1, Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po set up a horse ride to celebrate the founding of a Spirit Camp that they erected along the route of the proposed pipeline near the community of Cannon Ball in North Dakota.

The camp is called Inyan Wakhanagapi Othi orSacred Rock, which translates as the original name of the Cannon Ball area.

Dozens of riders and supporters joined in the spirit ride. All are welcome to show support at the campsite, which will be active for an undetermined period of time, or until no longer necessary. They urge all supporters to write letters to the Corps on behalf of tribal interests.

“We do not need oil to live, but we do need water,” said Waniya Locke, a descendant of the Standing Rock nation. “And water is a human right, not a privilege.”

Excerpt from Indian Country

Native American nations unite to ride against proposed North Dakota pipeline

By Nicky Woolf

About 200 people rode on horseback to protest against pipeline that encroaches on tribal lands and could pollute Missouri river: ‘We’re looking out for all people’

Dozens of tribal members from several Native American nations took to horseback on Friday to protest the proposed construction of an oil pipeline which would cross the Missouri river just yards from tribal lands in North Dakota.
The group of tribal members, which numbered around 200, according to a tribal spokesman, said they were worried that the Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed by a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, would lead to contamination of the river. The proposed route also passes through lands of historical significance to the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Nation, including burial grounds.

“They’re going under the river 500 yards from my son’s grave, my father’s grave, my aunt who I buried last week,” said Ladonna Allard, a member of the Standing Rock nation and the closest landowner to the proposed pipeline. “I really love my land, and if that pipeline breaks everything is gone.”

“We must fight every inch of our lives to protect the water,” Allard said.

A “spiritual camp” will be set up starting Saturday at the point where the proposed pipeline would cross the river, and the tribal members plan to stay and protest indefinitely.
The group is composed of members of the Standing Rock nation as well as others from North and South Dakota nations, including the Cheyenne River Lakota and the Rosebud Sioux. They joined together to ride, run and walk from the Tribal Administration Building north to Cannonball, North Dakota, on the reservation’s northern edge.

The Missouri river is the primary source of drinking water for the tribal reservation, according to Doug Crow Ghost, a spokesperson for the Standing Rock Sioux and the director of the tribe’s water office, who joined the protest on Friday. Tribal members also fish in the river, he said.

“Because we are going to be fighting this giant, all the rest of the nations came on horseback to say ‘we support you’,” said Allard. “That is why this horse ride is so important to us. Because we’re not alone in this fight. All of our nations are coming to stand with us, and all our allies and partners. This pipeline is illegal.”

The pipeline is currently waiting on a decision from a colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers, who oversees such projects, on whether Dakota Access will be granted a permit to proceed, according to Dallas Goldtooth, a Keep It In The Ground campaign organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network. The tribes are petitioning for an environmental impact study, which has not at this point been done, into the pipeline.

Goldtooth is optimistic about the tribe’s chances of stopping the pipeline. “It infringes on the tribe’s water rights, which are guaranteed by treaties, and the protocols associated with those rights were not followed,” he said. “The tribes have a really strong standing-point on this issue and we’re confident that we’ll see a whole environmental impact study enacted.”

Energy Transfer Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

“Although we do live on a reservation, the land that [the Dakota Access pipeline is] going to be crossing is on original land that was given us by treaty,” said Dakota Kidder, a member of the Standing Rock nation. “This is where it gets people fired up when you talk about broken treaties.”

“Without water there is no life, and this is our main source,” Kidder added. “It’s not just our issue. Everybody downriver of us is going to be affected, all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. We’re not just looking out for ourselves; we’re looking out for all people.”

Excerpt from Rawstory

Sioux spirit camp to protest Dakota Access Pipeline

By Lauren Donovan

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribes will hold a ceremonial ride across the reservation Friday, ending at a spirit camp near the Cannonball River to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The 1,130-mile pipeline would take up to 570,000 barrels of Bakken crude daily from the oil patch and transfer it through North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa to a final terminal in Illinois. Regulatory commissions in all four states have OK’d the route, though the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet issued a final environmental assessment for crossings on Lake Sakakawea and Lake Oahe.

Standing Rock tribal members oppose the pipeline being bored under the Missouri River on the upper reaches of Lake Oahe just above the mouth of Cannonball River, where its municipal water is sourced.

The ceremonial ride will start at 9 a.m. at the tribal administration building at Fort Yates and journey 20 miles north to the community of Cannon Ball, near the namesake river that forms the reservation’s north boundary.

Dakota Kidder, spokeswoman for the group Chante tin’sa kinanzi Po, or Standing with a Strong Heart, said the spirit camp is modeled after one occupied for months by South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation members to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline until President Obama rejected it in November.

“It is to be done in a respectful manner, and tribal elders will be there to share information. There will be community feed at Cannon Ball, and the ride will end along the water with prayers in the late afternoon,” she said.

Kidder said the spirit camp, named Wakȟáŋaǧapi Othí, or Sacred Rock, for the original name of the Cannonball area will be semi-permanent and tribal members and supporters will come and go.

“Who’s to say how long it will remain going?” Kidder said.

Tribal members, including Chairman Dave Archambault, have taken their concerns about the pipeline’s proximity to the corps and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Steve Sitting Bear, director of external affairs for Standing Rock, said the tribe is pushing for an expanded environmental assessment, since the corps’ draft assessment for the crossings on federal lands does not mention Standing Rock.

“It’s within 1,000 feet of the reservation, but it completely ignores the existence of a tribal nation,” said Sitting Bear of the pipeline. “We’re hoping to get the information out there that a tribal nation is put at risk for the interests of big oil and the state of North Dakota — everybody’s interests but ours. We’ll be the ones in harm’s way if this thing breaks.”

Joye Braun, community organizer on South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, said the four bands of her reservation stand by Standing Rock.

“The dangers imposed by the greed of big oil on the people who live along the Missouri River are astounding. When this proposed pipeline breaks, as the vast majority of pipelines do, over half of the drinking water in South Dakota will be affected. How can rubber-stamping this project be good for the people, agriculture and livestock? It must be stopped,” Braun said.

Excerpt via Bismark Tribune

Pipelines crossing Lake Sakakawea raise public concerns

Friends of Lake Sakakawea are ramping up efforts to educate the public on concerns about pipelines as more of such infrastructure has been proposed and reviewed nearly annually for the past seven years.

“What matters is that people learn; they take ownership,” said Terry Fleck, chairman of the organization.

Since the ‘50s, the Army Corps of Engineers has permitted 32 pipelines on federal land around Lake Sakakawea, nine of which cross the lake.

The agency is reviewing eight more that have come to the table within the past seven years — including the 570,000 barrels-per-day Dakota Access Pipeline, for which the North Dakota oil industry has high hopes.

With the high volume of pipelines under consideration, the Friends of Lake Sakakawea held a public information meeting with corps officials in Garrison on Monday with the aim of giving people the information needed to be involved and voice their opinions during the permitting process.

“Once it hits the water, it’s a big deal,” said one attendee, Susan Connell, who has spent the past five years working in the Bakken.

In her time in the industry, Connell said she has seen many spills and pipeline problems.

“I’m just really concerned that it stays away from the water; it should be nowhere near the water,” she said.

The organization wants to enlighten members of the public about the often confusing pipeline permitting process, so when they do attend public input meetings that weigh on the corps’ decision making, they are not intimidated and can speak with authority, according to Fleck.

About 75 people attended the meeting, more than was expected. Many expressed concern about pipelines near the water supply for communities along Lake Sakakawea. Among some of the questions asked: How are pipelines monitored when they run under the lake and what does the corps require for building materials and processes?

Corps officials said new pipelines are required to have Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition remote monitoring systems with shut-offs on both sides of the lake. In addition, the corps is requiring thicker pipelines than what is required by the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Older pipelines are undergoing pigging — a process in which a device travels through the pipeline cleaning and taking measurements, including wall thickness — every three years rather than the five years PHMSA requires, according to Larry Janis, division director for the corps’ Omaha district office.

Casey Buechler, lake manager for the corps, reported that Hess Corp., which has six pipelines around the lake, some from as far back as the ‘50s, has decommissioned some of its pipelines that have shown structural weaknesses.

Kelly Morgan, tribal archaeologist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, said he is concerned how low oil prices, struggling and failing oil companies and a dwindling workforce might affect control and cleanup response to spills.

“Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is against any and all pipelines going across the water,” she said. “We can live without oil, but we cannot live without our water .… We know that pipelines break; we know there’s spills.”

If a leak does happen and gets too big for the operators to contain, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency steps in, Buechler said.

Several pipeline operators have been conducting spill response drills on the lake; six drills were conducted in areas such as Parshall Bay. Three more are scheduled for the summer. Ice drills were attempted this year but canceled due to poor conditions.

“I’m pro-pipeline, but we want them developed responsibly,” said Travis Hallam, pipeline safety officer and acting tribal pipeline authority for Three Affiliated Tribes.

Hallam, who said tribal members have all lost loved ones to oil traffic on the roads, is a former hazardous materials inspector specializing in pipeline and rail transport and has seen the materials used for pipelines fail time and time again. He said the question is how much risk is acceptable: There are good pipeline operators and bad ones.

“Once it makes contact with the water, we’re already lost,” Hallam said of any oil that is spilled.

Hallam said the tribal council voted 7-0 against the proposed BakkenLink Pipeline and Hess Hawkeye Crude Oil Pipeline because they do not bore down under the bedrock of Lake Sakakawea as does the Dakota Access Pipeline. They run along the lake bottom.

Directional drilling under the lake is the corps’ preferred method, too, Janis said.

“We understand that sometimes that’s not possible,” he said.

The corps required one pipeline operator to conduct $1 million of geotechnical borings across the lake and evaluate other routes before it would consider allowing the company to use other methods than directional drilling. Even the Dakota Access Pipeline had to prove its drilling concept by doing borings on both sides of the Missouri River.

Janis said he was unsure about the timeline for the permitting of the eight proposed pipelines but encouraged public participation and comments as letters are sent out and environmental assessments and environmental impact statements are made available. More information is available on the corps website,

“Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is against any and all pipelines going across the water,” she said. “We can live without oil, but we cannot live without our water.… We know that pipelines break; we know there’s spills.” — Kelly Morgan, tribal archaeologist for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Source: Bismarck Tribune

Native Americans sidelined by gov’t in Dakotas pipeline project

“This water is the only water we drink, this is where we get our drinking water”


“For decades, Native Americans have been pushed aside by the government via of land rights and treaties. Now, The Dakota Access Pipeline, approved to carry 500,000 barrels of oil a day, is being built on Native land, sparking concerns of health risks. RT America’s Alexey Yaroshevsky reports.”

Video by RT America

Dakota Access Pipeline Threat: What You Need to Know

By Chelsey Luger

There’s a new oil pipeline project waiting and ready to go—unless it can be stopped. Here’s what you need to know.

If approved, the $3.4 billion Dakota Access Pipeline would transfer about a half million barrels of crude oil per day across 1,134 miles starting at the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota, taking a southeast path through South Dakota and Iowa, and eventually reaching Illinois. From Illinois it would connect to another existing pipeline with access to the Gulf of Mexico.

All permits have been filed, all four states have approved the project, and at least 90 percent of landowners along the route have agreed to voluntary easements. The project promises economic development, jobs, tax revenue, and hefty payouts to the landowners along the way.

But to those who oppose the pipeline, the environmental impacts are not worth the money. They are more concerned with the health and well-being of their people and land, and with the health and well-being of future generations. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is trying to stop the pipeline—and might be the only entity with the ability to actually prevent the project from moving forward.

Final approval lies in the hands of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for taking environmental and safety concerns into consideration before issuing a federal permit.

The Dakota Access team says on its website that proper steps have been taken to “ensure that the route had taken into consideration every aspect of the land in order to mitigate any risks.” But dozens of environmental organizations, individual landowners, concerned residents and one tribal government strongly disagree. The potential for an oil spill is always a risk with a pipeline project, they say, and if that were to happen, the environmental consequences would be devastating.

While the pipeline would not technically run directly through the Standing Rock Reservation, it would cross the Missouri River only a few hundred feet upstream from Standing Rock’s border, less than a mile from the community of Cannon Ball. From that crossing point the river flows south, comprising the entire eastern border of the reservation. If a leak were to occur, it would undoubtedly devastate the environment, people, resources and land of the Standing Rock nation. The quality of the water of the Missouri River is critical to the health and well-being of the tribe, both economically and culturally.

Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault has already met with and garnered support from officials in Washington representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Federal environmental and historic preservation laws require that large civil works projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline consult with any impoverished communities, minority populations and specifically with federally recognized tribes that are in near proximity prior to construction. As such, the tribe is demanding that the Army Corps of Engineers take its members’ interests and livelihood into consideration in a new environmental assessment.

Before the tribal officials voiced their concerns, the Army Corps had been utilizing an environmental assessment conducted by Dakota Access that did not take tribal interests into consideration at all. This lack of tribal consultation is a violation of the trust responsibility between the federal government and the tribe. Out of the 154 meetings held between the Dakota Access company, local elected officials and community organizations in North Dakota since the project was announced last summer, not one of those meetings included Standing Rock.

The reputation of the Army Corps of Engineers is not one that has been historically supportive of tribal interests, but the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is hoping to change and improve that relationship. Standing Rock will continue to work with all necessary federal agencies to resolve the discrepancies that occurred in the initial environmental assessment draft. However, the individual landowners and state governments who have approved the project are apparently seeing nothing but dollar signs.

The Army Corps has stated that it will make a decision about issuing a federal permit to Dakota Access by the first week in May. Until then, the tribe and other entities will continue to fight the pipeline. They are urging any and all interested parties to send letters to all relevant federal agencies and submit statements in support of the cause by any means possible.

“You can live without oil, you can live without money, but you can’t live without water,” Archambault toldKFYR TVof Bismarck.


Excerpt from Indian Country today

Bakken pipeline approved in Iowa, but fight not over

By William Petroski

Thousands of construction workers could start work this spring on the Bakken oil pipeline through Iowa, but a statewide coalition of environmentalists, community activists and property owners is vowing to do everything possible to stop the project.

The Iowa Utilities Board voted 3-0 on Thursday to approve a state permit for the underground pipeline, which will run diagonally for 346 miles across 18 Iowa counties. The project is proposed by Dakota Access LLC., a unit of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners.

The massive pipeline project has deeply divided Iowans from many walks of life, from those who welcome it as a potential economic benefit to those who deride it as an environmental threat and a violation of private property rights.

The board took about seven minutes to issue its decision. It came after 18 public informational meetings, 12 days of public hearings, and weeks of deliberations over the past year and a half. In the process, the board received more than 8,000 public comments and compiled more than 3,500 pages of transcripts.

The regulators ultimately concluded that issues of safety, economic benefits, environmental factors and landowners’ rights merited the most significant weight in reaching their decision, board member Libby Jacobs said. She was joined by board member Nick Wagner, who remarked, “We find that subject to terms and conditions that are set forth in the order, that the proposed pipeline will promote the public convenience and necessity, pursuant to Iowa Code.”

Chairwoman Geri Huser cast the third yes vote.

The board said in a statement that it applied a “statutory balancing test” that concluded that the public benefits of the project outweighed other factors. The public benefits included significant safety advantages of transporting oil by pipeline compared with alternatives, plus the creation of jobs and other economic benefits, projected to be at least $787 million during the construction period.

The decision came on a voice vote in a meeting room filled with about 60 supporters and opponents of the pipeline. Some opponents stood one by one after the decision was announced and loudly proclaimed, “I’m an Iowan and I vote no.” Opponents also rallied outside the IUB’s offices afterward, chanting, “No oil in our soil!”

Chad Carter, vice president and business agent of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 234 in Des Moines, said he was elated by the board’s decision, because it will result in good-paying construction jobs for 300 to 400 of his union’s members in Iowa. He also said it will improve Iowa’s energy security.

“All farmers in Iowa need diesel fuel, and everything we do in our society requires some type of fossil fuel,” Carter said.

But Pam Alexander of Ottumwa, a pipeline opponent whose family owns two farms in Mahaska County, said she was disappointed. “I feel like landowners were given the shaft. No one stood up for landowners,” she said.

A written-order — it is about an inch thick — issued by the board spells out the reasons behind the decision, and the terms and conditions of the state permit. The board’s decision includes the company’s right to use eminent domain for the pipeline on private-owned land where it has been unable to negotiate voluntary easements.

The board’s decision culminates a process that began in June 2014, when plans were announced for a 1,168-mile pipeline extending from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution hub at Patoka, Ill. Dakota Access has said it plans to proceed with the project despite a plunge in global oil prices.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring, with completion late this year. An army of 2,000 to 4,000 construction workers is expected to be employed on the project in Iowa alone.

The pipeline has an estimated total cost of $3.78 billion in four states. Once completed, the pipeline typically will transport about 450,000 barrels of crude oil daily and will have the capacity to transport up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day.

Regulators in three other states have approved the pipeline, although state and federal permits must still be granted. Chuck Gipp, director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said Thursday his agency has approved a permit for the pipeline to cross publicly owned land in Iowa, but it is  conditional on authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Lawsuits are expected from farmers opposed to the pipeline who fear damage to tile drainage lines and reduced crop yields or who simply don’t like the idea of a pipeline running through land that has often been owned by Iowa families for generations. A Cherokee County District Court judge used a technicality in October to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Iowa Utilities Board’s authority to grant eminent domain for the pipeline, citing a failure to exhaust all administrative remedies.

But the judge did not rule whether the pipeline company, which is not a public utility, is eligible to use eminent domain.

Eminent domain is the right of a government to seize private property for public use, in exchange for payment of fair market value. Iowa and other states, responding to concerns about protecting property rights, have moved in recent years to limit use of eminent domain.

Attorney Bill Hanigan of the Davis Brown law firm in Des Moines said Thursday that he and landowners he represents believe that assurances from state regulators of no negative impacts from the pipeline did not go far enough.

“We are disappointed with the decision and the idea that an out-of-state company can take private property for industrial development in the name of the state,” Hanigan said. “We believe the board has misinterpreted Iowa law, particularly the 2006 law specifically designed to protect Iowa farmland.”

A Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted in late February showed that a plurality of 47 percent of adult Iowans supported construction of the pipeline, while 40 percent were against it and 14 percent were not sure. But public support for the pipeline had decreased by 10 percentage points since February 2015. The poll surveyed 804 Iowa adults.

Business leaders and union construction workers have lined up in support of the project, citing positive economic benefits and a desire for U.S. energy security. Mike Ralston, president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and Bill Gerhard, president of the Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council, issued statements praising the Iowa Utilities Board’s decision.

At the same time, farmers who object to the pipeline have been joined by environmental activists who decry further national reliance on fossil fuels and worry about pipeline leaks. Carolyn Raffensperger of Ames, executive director the Science and Environmental Health Network, said Thursday: “Stay tuned. This story is not over. We do not have a pipeline in the ground yet and we are going to do everything in our power to keep that pipeline from crossing the heartland.”

The Iowa chapter of the Sierra Club also pledged to continue opposing the pipeline project.

 Supporters and opponents of the pipeline carried out raucous demonstrations at the Boone County Fairgrounds in November before the state board conducted public hearings that drew testimony from more than 200 people for and against the project. Emotions ran high as audience members cheered, whistled, applauded and groaned as speakers made their pleas.In December, a ruckus developed when pipeline foes angrily accused Iowa Department of Natural Resources officials of trying to prevent them from publicly voicing objections at a meeting attended by about 150 people in Des Moines. DNR officials said they were trying to be fair to all sides and follow Iowa law.

Pipeline issue at a glance


ECONOMIC BENEFITS: The pipeline project will employ an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 construction workers in Iowa and will provide a short-term economic windfall for hotels, restaurants and convenience stores in communities along the route. At least half of the construction workers hired on Iowa’s section will come from within the state, Dakota Access LLC says, and it has reached an agreement to hire union workers. Most pipeline jobs will be skilled — welders, mechanics, electricians, pipe fitters and heavy equipment operators. Average annual income for workers will be $57,000. But only about 12 to 15 permanent employees will be needed in Iowa to operate the pipeline once it’s finished. Once completed, the Dakota Access will be required to pay local property taxes.

ENERGY SECURITY: Iowa business interests see the pipeline as contributing to the nation’s energy security and a robust state economy. They also say it will free up railroads now used to transport crude oil so they can more expeditiously haul shipments of Midwest grain.

SAFETY: Advocates say it’s safer to transport crude oil via a pipeline compared with railroad tank cars, which have been involved in major accidents involving Bakken oil shipments, causing loss of life and catastrophic property damage.


ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE: Opponents say it’s inevitable that oil spills will occur, and they say a major spill in Iowa could damage farmland for generations, cause hundreds of millions of dollars of damage and pollute Iowa’s waterways. They also say the pipeline could harm wildlife and sensitive natural areas in its path.

RELIANCE ON FOSSIL FUELS: Critics say the pipeline will continue reliance on fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change. A new pipeline will only delay the nation’s transition to clean and renewable energy and more fuel-efficient vehicles, they say.

PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS: There are 1,295 tracts of land along the Iowa section of the pipeline route, and most property owners have signed voluntary easements in exchange for payments of fair market value. But the owners of nearly 300 parcels have refused to grant easements, which could result in authorization of eminent domain proceedings to take their properties in exchange for payment of fair market value.

About the pipeline

OWNER:  Dakota Access LLC, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas

CAPACITY: The 30-inch-diameter pipe typically will carry about 450,000 barrels per day, with capacity of up to 570,000 barrels per day.

LENGTH: It will extend 1,168 miles from North Dakota’s Bakken and Three Forks oil-production areas to Patoka, Ill., where it can link to an existing pipeline or railroad connections being developed.

IOWA ROUTE: The pipeline will pass 346 miles from the northwest to the southeast, through 18 Iowa counties: Lyon, Sioux, O’Brien, Cherokee, Buena Vista, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Boone, Story, Polk, Jasper, Mahaska, Keokuk, Wapello, Jefferson, Van Buren and Lee.

TARGET MARKETS: Dakota Access says shippers will be able to access multiple markets, including Midwest and East Coast markets, as well as the Gulf Coast via the Nederland, Texas, crude oil terminal facility of Sunoco Logistics Partners.

PROJECT COST: $3.78 billion in four states, including Iowa


CONSTRUCTION JOBS: The company says 8,000 to 12,000 jobs will be created during construction along the entire route, including 2,000 to 4,000 jobs in Iowa.

CONSTRUCTION TIMELINE: Work is scheduled to start this spring, with the goal of having the pipeline operational in the fourth quarter this year.

PERMANENT JOBS: Once completed, the pipeline would not have any distribution centers in Iowa, and would employ 12 to 15 employees in the state.

TAXES GENERATED: Iowa will receive about $50 million in sales and income taxes during construction, the company says.

ANNUAL IOWA PROPERTY TAXES SECOND YEAR, BEYOND: In 2017, the company says, the pipeline will generate an estimated $24.7 million in local property taxes in Iowa.


Excerpt via Desmoine Register

Standing Rock Reservation Members Express Concern Over Dakota Access Pipeline

By Megan Mitchell

The Dakota Access Pipeline plans to move oil from the Bakken to Illinois.

The proposed route goes through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

The $3.7 billion project was approved by the North Dakota Public ServiceCommission in January.

But that doesn’t mean the project is ready to go.

The Army Corps of Engineers still has to OK certain parts of the pipeline, including the crossing of waterways.

The group met with leaders on the Standing Rock Reservation to hear concerns they have with the pipeline.

Many tribal members are speaking up.

“Pipelines aren’t a matter of if they’ll break, it’s when they’ll break,” said Joye Braun, Standing Rock resident.

Braun and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are protesting the DakotaAccess Pipeline.

“The mere thought of putting a 30-inch pipeline underneath the Missouri River is causing a lot of concern by our membership,” said Chairman Dave Archambault, Standing Rock Reservation.

The pipeline is proposed to go in a few hundred feet from the northern border of the reservation and across the community’s main water source.

With more than 300 pipeline spills in North Dakota in the past two years, residents are afraid their water will be contaminated.

“For them to just blatantly continue the pipelines and the contamination and the taking of our drinking water and ignoring us is genocide. It’s genocide,” said Phyllis Young, Standing Rock resident.

Tribal leaders say the environment assessment was done internally by the same company building the pipeline and it made no mention of any community living in the area.

They also say the company bypassed federal laws requiring direct discussion with the tribes.

“If you look at the policies that the Corp of Engineers has that consultation was supposed to have occurred prior to any planning and construction,” said John Eagle, Standing Rock Reservation director of tribal historic preservation.

Energy Transfer Partners says authorization to construct is set at the state level, which was approved by the PSC.

Permits on local and federal levels are still in progress.

A representative for the company said in a statement, “(The pipeline) does not cross their land. We are compliant with any and all regulations including tribal coordination and cultural resources.”

Archambault says it is inside the treaty boundary.

“You can live without oil. You can live without money. But you can’t live without water,” Archambault said.

Standing Rock members say they are fighting for the rights of generations to come.

Iowa is expected to make a ruling on its part of the pipeline Thursday.

The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to make a decision on the federal permit in May.


Excerpt via KFYR-TV

Dakota Access pipeline loses in a side show in Sioux Falls

By Barry Amundson

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — While a major decision on the four-state Dakota Access pipeline looms in Iowa on Thursday, there was a sideshow and surprise Tuesday night in Sioux Falls where the city council first denied an easement for the pipeline to run near the city’s landfill west of town and then reconsidered late in the meeting to approve it.

The council rejected the easement 4-3 in the first vote but later approved it 6-1.

The decision came after city council members said they had received reports of strong-arm tactics by pipeline company employees with landowners over obtaining surveying rights and easements and questioned the use of eminent domain and if $10 million in insurance offered by the company was enough in case there was a leak into the landfill.

City public works director Mark Cotter and assistant city attorney Diane Best recommended approval of the pipeline and thought there was adequate protection for the city. Mayor Mike Huether said it was only a 25 foot by 730 foot easement and that the discussion shouldn’t delve into statewide concerns about the project that has already been approved by three states, including South Dakota utility regulators. Only Iowa approval remains.

After questioning by council member Greg Jamison, Best said the denial of the easement would have meant Dakota Access would either have have to re-route the pipeline away from the landfill or proceed to court for a condemnation or eminent domain hearing.

But the reconsideration changed those possibilities.

In the later vote, the council said they wanted Dakota Access to prove that it could be good neighbors to the city’s neighbors.

Dakota Access Vice President for Engineering Joey Mahmoud tried to soothe over some of the council concerns in the meeting by saying that landowners statewide were given full market value easements and that only seven tracts of land out of 500 were not settled yet. That meant that 92.7 percent of easements in South Dakota were finalized with others nearly finished bringing the total to near 99 percent.

One of those who is waiting for final approval of her easement and who has been leading opposition to the 272 miles of pipeline in South Dakota was the only member of the public to speak at the council meeting.

Peggy Hoogestraat, a landowner who has intensely studied the 30-inch, 1,134-mile long pipeline, told the council she wanted them to know some of the issues still surrounding the planned pipeline running from the Bakken oilfields of western North Dakota, through South Dakota, Iowa and finally to Illinois where it can be transported to refineries using other pipelines.

The farmer from near Chancellor, a small town southwest of Sioux Falls, said in an interview before the meeting that her easement was for 14 acres of her “prime” crop and pasture land and that the pipeline posed some added problems for her farming operation as she had just installed drain tile in late 2014 and would have a water supply for livestock cut off during construction.

Hoogestraat, who said she has a stack 6 feet high of documents in her home on the project and has attended several meetings and hearings, wanted the City Council to know that some landowners say they were mistreated by the company that was “less than truthful” in talks with landowners and that negotiations were “very difficult and expensive.”

 “I grew up as a child on this land and it’s really hard for me and other family farmers and landowners to see this happen,” Hoogestraat said before the meeting. “I know many others in the same situation.”

She also questioned the property tax money the company said it will pay once the project is done and whether the reclamation of the land it crosses will be done correctly.

Hoogestraat told the council she doesn’t think the pipeline will provide any real benefit to the people of South Dakota as is already evidenced now with cheap gas that prices are more determined by supply and demand. She also said with Congress approving oil exports, the North Dakota product could be hauled directly out of the country and that South Dakota would just be a pathway.

She said she’s mostly concerned about the next generation that may have to face leaks and spills from the pipeline.

At the council meeting, however, Mahmoud said there were nine valves on the pipeline in the Sioux Falls area with sensors that could determine a problem in nine minutes. It was also noted that the pipeline would be buried four feet under ground — more than federal requirements — and that a city landfill monitoring well near the pipeline would also help to detect any possible leak.

Mahmoud also told the council that if the pipe is maintained properly it could “last forever.”

Now it’s onto Iowa. Hoogestraat said even if the Iowa Utilities Board approves the project Thursday, it may not be the end of the road with possible lawsuits.

The Iowa board, which has already started public hearings on the pipeline that would run 346 miles through 18 counties in Iowa, has stated it will make a decision Thursday.

The hearing resumes at 1 p.m. and more testimony is expected.

If a permit is granted, Dakota Access will be allowed to construct, maintain and operate the pipeline in the state.

In its selling points for the project, Dakota Access said the pipeline will allow domestically produced the North Dakota light sweet crude oil to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safer and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the use of rail and truck transportation to move Bakken crude oil by carrying 450,000 barrels per day — with a capacity as high as 570,000 barrels per day or more – which could represent about half of the Bakken’s current daily crude oil production.

Excerpt via Bismark Tribune

Pick Your Poison For Crude — Pipeline, Rail, Truck Or Boat

By James Conca

Crude oil is moving around the world, around our country, around pristine wilderness, around our cities and towns. It’s going to keep moving, will undoubtedly increase during our new energy boom, so what is the safest way to move it?

The short answer is: truck worse than train worse than pipeline worse than boat ( But that’s only for human death and property destruction. For the normalized amount of oil spilled, it’s truck worse than pipeline worse than rail worse than boat (Congressional Research Service). Different yet again is for environmental impact (dominated by impact to aquatic habitat), where it’s boat worse than pipeline worse than truck worse than rail.

So it depends upon what your definition is for worse. Is it death and destruction? Is it amount of oil released? Is it land area or water volume contaminated? Is it habitat destroyed? Is it CO2 emitted?

In both the United States and Canada, more crude oil, petroleum products, and natural gas are transported in pipelines than by all other modes combined, using the unit of ton-mile which is the number of tons shipped over number of miles (The Fraser Institute).

In the U.S., 70% of crude oil and petroleum products are shipped by pipeline. 23% of oil shipments are on tankers and barges over water. Trucking only accounts for 4% of shipments, and rail for a mere 3%. In Canada, it’s even more lopsided. Almost all (97%) of natural gas and petroleum products are transported by pipelines (Canadian Energy Pipeline Association).

Amid a North American energy boom and a lack of pipeline capacity, crude oil shipping on rail is suddenly increasing. The trains are getting bigger and towing more and more tanker cars. From 1975 to 2012, trains were shorter and spills were rare and small, with about half of those years having no spills above a few gallons ( Then came 2013, in which more crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents than was spilled in the previous thirty-seven years.

Crude is a nasty material, very destructive when it spills into the environment, and very toxic when it contacts humans or animals. It’s not even useful for energy, or anything else, until it’s chemically processed, or refined, into suitable products like naphtha, gasoline, heating oil, kerosene, asphaltics, mineral spirits, natural gas liquids, and a host of others.

Every crude oil has different properties, such as sulfur content (sweet to sour) or density (light to heavy), and requires a specific chemical processing facility to handle it (Permian Basin Oil&Gas). Different crudes produce different amounts and types of products, sometimes leading to a glut in one or more of them, like too much natural gas liquids that drops their price dramatically, or not enough heating oil that raises their price.

As an example, the second largest refinery in the United States, Marathon Oil’s GaryVille Louisiana facility, can handle over 520,000 barrels a day (bpd) of heavy sour crude from places like Mexico and Canada but can’t handle sweet domestic crude from New Mexico.

Thus the reason for the Keystone Pipeline or increased rail transport – to get heavy tar sand crude to refineries along the Gulf Coast than can handle it.

The last entirely new petroleum refinery in the United States opened in 1976 (Congressional Research Service). Since then, the number of refineries has steadily declined while refining capacity has concentrated in ever-larger facilities. 25% of U.S. capacity is found in only eleven refineries. Recently, Shell’s Baytown refinery in Texas, the largest in the nation, was expanded to 600,000 bpd. Most of the big refineries can handle heavy crude, but many smaller refineries can process only light to intermediate crude oil, most of which originates within the U.S.

Thirty-three states have refineries, and most refineries can handle tens-of-thousands to hundreds-of-thousands of barrels per day, but the largest capacity sits around the Gulf Coast and in California where the oil boom in America began. However, in the 1990s after production of sweet domestic crude had significantly declined from mid-century highs, the big companies like Exxon, Shell, CITCO and Valero spent billions upon billion of dollars to retool their refineries to handle foreign heavy crudes.

With the number of refineries decreasing, and capacity concentrating in fewer places, crude usually has to be moved some distance. There are four ways to move it over long distances: by pipeline, by boat, by truck, or by rail. Each has its unique problems and none is without harm.

The question is: which is safest and which should we invest in most? Take two spills for comparison.

The Quebec train wreck last year killed 47 people and spilled 1.5 million gallons of crude onto land ( The Enbridge pipeline rupture in 2010 spilled over a million gallons of similar crude into the Kalamazoo River but did not kill anyone (Wikipedia).

Contamination of water is generally much worse for the environment than contamination of land as it spreads quickly over more area and impacts more species and habitat. But killing people makes a big difference. I don’t want to put a price tag on human life, but the Government has, and it’s about $8 million a person (NYTimes).

So the Quebec train derailment cost over $400 million in human life, and will cost another $150 million or so for clean-up and rebuilding the town. The Enbridge pipeline cost no human lives but will cost about a billion dollars to clean-up and, like the Exxon Valdez, will never really succeed.

Note: using this value of $8 million a person, we 300 million Americans are worth $2.4 quadrillion, hmm…maybe not a good number. If we use our net value for America as a whole, about $75 trillion, divide by 300 million people, then the average value of a human life in America would be $250,000. So the Quebec train derailment cost less than  $12 million in human life. Thus the danger of trying to gauge the value of a human life.

These are not easy questions and one’s vested interest has a great deal of sway in the answer. You really do need to pick your poison.

Like always, it will probably come down to money. And it won’t be about jobs (Pipeline Jobs), regardless of which end of the spectrum you believe, because there just isn’t enough jobs to matter compared to the value of the oil itself and the refinery capacity. It’s simply cheaper and quicker to transport by pipeline than by rail or by truck. The difference in cost is about $50 billion a year for shipping via the Keystone versus rail, totally eclipsing any economic effect of jobs in either direction.

A rail tank car carries about 30,000 gallons (÷ 42 gallons/barrel = about 700 barrels). A train of 100 cars carries about 3 million gallons (70,000 barrels) and takes over 3 days to travel from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, about a million gallons per day. The Keystone will carry about 35 million gallons per day (830,000 barrels). This puts pressure on rail transport to get bigger and bigger, and include more cars per train, the very reason that crude oil train wrecks have dramatically increased lately.

The Congressional Research Service estimates that transporting crude oil by pipeline is cheaper than rail, about $5/barrel versus $10 to $15/barrel (  But rail is more flexible and has 140,000 miles of track in the United States compared to 57,000 miles of crude oil pipelines. Building rail terminals to handle loading and unloading is a lot cheaper, and less of a hassle, than building and permitting pipelines.

It isn’t acceptable to just say we shouldn’t be moving oil, because we will for the next decade or more, no matter what. So, keeping in mind the difference between death/damage to humans and damage to the environment, which would you choose?

Like a few weeks ago, I would appreciate just one comment from each person for the first 24 hours after posting so we can get a tally before we get into the normal animated back and forth debates. Below is some more information on each transportation mode.


Two seemingly opposite facts –

1) from 1980 to 2012, the train accident rate in the United States fell 80 percent, the rail employee injury rate fell 85 percent and the RR crossing collision rate fell 82 percent, but

2) more crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents in 2013 than was spilled in the previous thirty-seven years.


Using data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, 1.5 million gallons of crude oil were spilled from rail cars in 2013. On the other hand, from 1975 to 2012, railroads spilled a total of 800,000 gallons of crude oil (McClatchy; check out their great interactive map of spills over space and time).

Even worse, these data do not include rail accidents in Canada. 1.5 million gallons of crude oil spilled in a single day last year in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and 47 people were killed. The shipment did originate in North Dakota so take your pick of provenance.

If crude oil shipping on rail is becoming a preferred mode for oil producers in our North American energy boom, this trend is very disturbing. In 2011, crude rail capacity between southern Alberta and the northern U.S. Great Plains tripled to about 300,000 barrels per day, about a third of the Keystone XL capacity. U.S. railroads delivered 7 million barrels of crude in 2008, 46 million in 2011, 163 million in 2012, and 262 million in 2013 (almost as much as that anticipated by the Keystone XL alone). To replace the Keystone XL with rail shipments would mean another doubling of rail capacity, but that would be just another couple of years given this trend.

The Association of American Railroads points out that over 11 billion gallons of crude were shipped in 2013, so these spills account for only one-hundredth of one percent. On the other hand, the environment and people’s health don’t care about what made it though OK, just what was spilled.

Our railroad infrastructure was not built to handle this mass of crude on its system and doesn’t use enough specialty cars. If this trend continues, major infrastructure investments need to occur on both sides of the border, as well as significant changes in protocol and regulation.

Like: big oil trains have to go slower, or oil tank cars have to be hazardous material cars.

It turns out that the rail industry recently modified its guidelines in response to the Quebec derailment (Congressional Research Service) as follows:

  • restrict train speeds to less than 50 mph
  • increase the frequency of track maintenance
  • install wayside defective equipment detectors, such as “hot box” detectors, that detect wheels with faulty bearings, every 40 miles, with specific protocols for conductors when defects are indicated
  • use only track in good condition to support speeds of 25 mph or higher.

Reducing train speed can reduce the number of cars that derail as well as the likelihood that oil will be released from those cars, or that explosions will result.


Although the news is filled with comparisons between pipelines and trains, the third vector is trucks. While we can compare relative risks, the issue with trucking is that it takes lots and lots of trucks to move billions of gallons of crude since a single tank trailer only holds about 9,000 gallons or 200 barrels, a little under a third of a rail car. Our present fleet only handles 4% of our needs, so shipping by truck instead of the Keystone XL would take another million-and-a-half tanker trucks. Trucking is the most risky form of transport from an accident standpoint (yes, driving is one of those things, like smoking, that will always be in the top four most risky things to do –What’s Really Gonna Kill You?) and also from a spill standpoint. However, it is the least impactive from an environmental standpoint since each truck is small and is mainly on land, so large spills to waterways are less likely than any other mode of transport.

What is important to note, however, is that regardless of the long-hauling mode, most petroleum eventually gets onto a truck for the short moves. This limits the tons-mile risk but increases the incident number risk.

In a white paper about the dangers of transporting dangerous goods by truck, the Canadian Trucking Alliance repeats its long-standing position that “the federal government should introduce a universal mandate requiring all trucks, where the driver is currently required to carry a logbook under the federal hours of service regulations, to be equipped with an electronic recording device; and introduce a manufacturing standard (in lock-step with the United States) requiring all new heavy trucks to be equipped with a roll stability system” (Canadian Trucking Alliance). In addition, the Alliance wants all Canadian provinces and U.S. states to follow Ontario’s and Quebec’s lead by requiring truck speed limiters.


Ship transport is possible along coastal waters and along large rivers and is the method that is used for almost all foreign imports except from Canada. The thing about ships is that they carry a lot of oil per boat and many of the largest spills in history are from boats, such as the Exxon Valdez and the latest one from a collision in the Houston Ship Channel just last month (NOLA).

Five out of the ten largest oil spills in U.S. history were from boats (List of oil spills). Most important is that they have immediate impact on aquatic ecosystems both in the ocean, in rivers, or along shorelines that are usually sensitive habitats. I still don’t understand why these keep happening with modern technologies to detect water depth and nearby boats. Human error needs to be better removed from this equation.


The most controversial transport mode today is pipeline, mainly because of the Keystone XL debate and the recent Pegasus and Enbridge pipeline ruptures. The industry points to the generally good safety record in terms of percentages. Among oil pipeline workers, the rate hospitalization was 30 times lower compared to rail workers involved in transporting oil, and 37 times lower than for road transport, between 2005 and 2009, the latest period for which complete data exists (Intermodal Safety in the Transport of Oil).

But pipeline spills are inevitable. About 280 pipeline spills occur each year in the U.S. that are deemed significant (USDOT), that is, either there is a fatality or injury requiring in-patient hospitalization, it causes $50,000 or more in total costs (measured in 1984 dollars), there are highly volatile liquid releases of more than 5 barrels or other liquid releases of more than 50 barrels, or there are liquid releases that result in an unintentional fire or explosion.

Again, you’ll notice that these measures are in human health and property damage, not environmental effects. Environmental impacts are very difficult to estimate and, in almost all cases, are not even attempted.

In the end, all of these transportation modes can be made safer if stricter regulatory controls and modern technologies are emplaced, but the questions remain – can we make the industry comply and which ones do we want to invest in?

Finally, what brave reader wants to calculate the value of an acre of land destroyed by an oil spill? The EU recently allotted $100 per acre for removing pristine land for energy use, but this seems way too low. My muse suggests you start with Sierra Club, NRDC and EDF.


Excerpt via Forbes

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