Taking Action: No Dakota Access Pipeline #NODAPL

Paddlefishes, photo by Solomon David

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is a proposed 30-inch diameter pipeline spanning approximately 1,150 miles to transport crude oil in the United States. On July 27, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of Fort Yates, North Dakota filed a lawsuit against the United States Army Corps of Engineers over the approved construction of DAPL segments in North Dakota despite assessments ignoring important public health, socioeconomic, cultural, and ecological impacts on the Tribe and region.

In September 2016, myself, Anne Hilborn, Katherine Crocker and Asia Murphy wrote a sign-on statement, and subsequent resolution, for us and other scientists to show support of halting all construction of the DAPL until revised environmental and cultural assessments are carried out as requested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Case 1:16-cv-01534. The resolution has been signed by 229 scientists to date. 

Despite the concerns and law suit raised by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and those set out in our supporting statement, and similar statements written by other expert groups (Archaeologists & Museums), on January 24, 2017, President Donald J Trump took steps to advance construction of the DAPL, as well as the Keystone XL Pipeline, through executive orders. 

Do you care about Indigenous people’s rights? Do you care about the adequacy of environmental and cultural assessments undertaken for infrastructure projects such as DAPL and Keystone XL? Do you care about the ethical standards and conflicts of interests behind the advancement of such infrastructure projects? Then, it is time to contact the senators and representatives who represent you in Washington. 

Below are some specific DAPL points you can mention, but customizing your comment to senators and representatives has more impact, so be sure to include your personal concerns as well when you phone: 

  • The pipeline was approved without proper consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other tribes in the region.
  • The Tribe are concerned that potential spills from the pipeline—which would pass under the Missouri River (at Lake Oahe) half a mile upstream of their reservation boundary—would impact their drinking water, as well as that of thousands of others downstream who rely on the river for drinking water and irrigation. 
  • Fresh water is vital to all life, and thus one of the most precious and important resources on the planet. Oil spills can have long-lasting negative effects on our waterways, and nearby lands, including threats to things we value and depend on, such as fisheries.
  • When disaster strikes from an oil spill, the President needs to be able to respond quickly. Knowledge gained through science, and revised environmental and cultural assessments, as requested by Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, can facilitate more effective and efficient responses to mitigate impacts.
  • From an ethical point of view, President Trump has known economic ties to the DAPL and Keystone XL, which raises questions about the ethics of approving the advancement of these projects.

Dr Susan J Cheng recently shared points set out by the AAAS on communicating about science with the new administration, and one point that stuck out to me, was the value of creating a visual or connection that the person you are talking to can imagine. 

Please share this post broadly, and if there are any key points that we have missed about the DAPL, please email them to stephierenee(at)gmail(dot)com to ensure we have a strong list of points that individuals can draw from when they make their calls.