At first glance the ongoing protest in North Dakota, which has already led to the arrest of dozens of people and forced construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline to halt for a weekend, appears to be the work of local Native American opponents of the project.
But when you dig a bit deeper, it quickly becomes clear this is not the full story. After all, what is different about Dakota Access? We’ve built domestic pipelines in this country for decades before without this sort of unrest. The pipeline will ease a lot of local concerns about rail transport and road transport of oil through North Dakota. Why then is this pipeline all of a sudden such a great controversy?
And they’re right. Even though this project is indeed groundbreaking when it comes to energy access and economic benefits for the region, at the end of the day it is a pipeline project like the many that have come before it; built to connect consumers to the energy resources needed to run our modern economy.
So who are these protestors? They’re not even all from North Dakota; Native Americans, celebrities, and environmental activists from across the country have been flocking to the site to form a “human barricade” to stop construction. Sounds like a conspiracy right? But the more you dig, the more the case against the project unravels.
EarthJustice, an activist group which has filed a lawsuit against the pipeline on behalf of the Standing Rock tribe is currently seeking an injunction to legally block the on-going construction. The group opposes all infrastructure development that “could lock us into decades of dirty fuels.” Dakota Access isn’t even their only project, EarthJustice is opposed to drilling operations, export terminals, pipelines, and other infrastructure projects related to the energy industry. If EarthJustice had their way, the economic boom that benefitted thousands of North Dakotans over the past decade, and made the state one of the great economic success stories in America would have never even happened!
Once again we see the same old story play out; states approve a project supported by working people that will better our economy, and radical environmental interests attempt to delay and derail that project by using professional protestors, Hollywood spokespeople, and partisan environmental lobbyists who use Native people to further their own political agenda. Sound familiar?
This is exactly the type of action we cannot allow to happen. Real people, North Dakotans, South Dakotans, Iowans, and Illinoisans are already benefiting from this project. Good paying jobs are at stake for thousands of local workers already building the pipeline. And even when construction is complete, we will see many benefits from a direct connection between consumers and the Bakken, lower energy costs, lower traffic, and a resurgent energy-independent America.