Dakota Access Pipeline Crossing NEPA
Dakota Access Pipeline, also called Bekken Pipeline, is a project of the underground pipeline, which was planned to be finished in 2016. Its construction started in 2014 with the publication of the plan, presented by Dakota Access LCC and Energy Transfer Partners to release a project of a 1,172-mile pipeline from Stanley, North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois (Ellis, Sanchez, and Yan, 2016). In 2016 the process of building was halted by the decision of US authorities as its implementation revealed two teething problems – environmental affect and ethnic conflict connected with historical events.
These two issues turned this grand project into nationally viewed imbroglio. Concerning the impact of the construction and the pipeline itself on the environment, there are a number of documents that confirm the permission of relevant federal authorities to begin and continue the fulfillment out the project. On the other hand, many activists and scholars argue that the project can not be implemented because of possible contamination of drinking water and damage to rivers.
The other issue is the conflict caused by the fact that the pipeline is planned to cross Native American territories of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and endanger the integrity of their sacred lands as well as their fresh water supplies, which are totally dependent on the Missouri River (Healy, 2016). The Second Laramie Treaty of 1868 established the Great Sioux Reservation that included today's Standing Rock Sioux Reservation together with sacred lands in Black Hillls and life-giving Missouri River (Sanstead, 1995). The historical division of the lands between the Army and Native Americans nowadays involves both sides in the controversy over the pipeline. Moreover, taking into consideration all possible consequences for the river and Lake Oahe, it is logical that ecological and ethnic components of the problem are seen as those that have common roots.
According to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, “all branches of government give proper consideration to the environment prior to undertaking any major federal action that significantly affects the environment” (Summary of the National Environmental Policy Act n. d.). That is why, protesting activists who represented several Native American nations considered their struggle to stop the construction of Dakota Access as the one that is conditioned by federal law.
In April 2016 under public pressure several federal agencies including the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and Environmental Protection Agency forced U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform a formal Environmental Impact Assessment, that started seven months later and resulted in the publication of Environmental Impact Statement, which read that the USACE “will look for alternative routes” (Wong, 2016). In accordance with NEPA earlier in September, 2016, the US Departments of Justice, Interior, and Army, presented a joint statement, which stopped the implementation of the project (Levin and Wong, 2017). This made activists feel like winners and wait for the alternative proposal, which was soon to be announced.
In December 2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a proposal to …