In a recent interview on Now This, President Obama said the Army Corp of Engineers is looking into rerouting the Dakota Access pipeline.
“We’re monitoring this closely,” Obama said. “My view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans. And I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.”
“We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans,” he said.
This highlights the multidimensional nature of the Dakota Access pipeline issue. The issues include:
- honoring Native American sacred sites
- honoring Native American rights
- protecting clean water supplies (Missouri River)
- the poor safety record of pipelines and oil trains
- the environmental damage of fracking
- the need to stop burning fossil fuels now in order to address greenhouse gas overload
Moving the pipeline would honor Native American sacred sites. Giving Native Americans a larger role in decisions about infrastructure projects would be one way to better honor Native rights. And if the pipeline is moved downstream from the Standing Rock reservation, as was done for the city of Bismarck, that would help address the water protection for Bismarck and the Standing Rock tribe, but not, of course, the rest of the Missouri River and the water supply of all of the cities, towns and farmlands it serves.
And continuing the construction of the pipeline would result in worse environmental damage from the other issues–damage from fracking, pipeline leaks and burning the fossil fuel, adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
The water protectors have said again and again that what they are doing is for everyone, not just themselves. While rerouting the pipeline would help the Standing Rock Sioux, I doubt water protectors will stop raising their concerns just because the immediate threat to them was removed.
From Democracy Now! story September 6, 2016:
AMY GOODMAN: Why is this such an important fight to you?
PROTESTER 17: Because water is life. Like I said, without water, we’d all—we wouldn’t be here. These plants wouldn’t be here. There’d be no oxygen. We’d all die without it. I wish they’d open their eyes and have a heart, to realize, you know, if this happens, we’re not going to be the only ones that are going to suffer. They’re going to suffer, too.