The United States has 72,000 miles of crude oil pipeline. Yet each proposal to add 1,000 miles or so is viewed by opponents in almost apocalyptic terms.
Activists spent years defeating the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have transported oil from western Canada and eastern Montana to the Gulf of Mexico.
Now the focus is on the Dakota Access Pipeline, a mostly built line running diagonally through the Dakotas and Iowa on its way to Illinois. It would be the first major pipeline bringing access to the Bakken oil fields that have been so much a part of America’s energy production renaissance.
On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers said it would not approve an easement to cross the Missouri River at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, where protesters have been holed up for months. The decision by the Obama administration effectively punts the issue to the Trump administration, which would do well to explore whether there are less controversial ways to complete the pipeline.
For the Standing Rock Sioux, it is understandable that they would not want a pipeline crossing a major river just upstream of their reservation (and traversing land outside of the reservation said to contain sacred burial sites).