North Dakota Pipelines threatens our society

In the wake of the new administration, many indigenous leaders have regained hope and reignited a call for action: to shut down the North Dakota Access Pipeline after years of environmental damage and exponentially increasing cultural insensitivity. 

Mere hours following his inauguration, President Biden decided to officially cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit, a project which would have built an oil pipeline running from Hardisty, Alberta all the way to Steel City, Nebraska, transferring roughly 830,000 barrels of crude oil per day. 

The shutdown of the Keystone XL pipeline permit gave hope to those who have been calling for the shutdown of the North Dakota Pipeline. The North Dakota pipeline is a 1,172 mile long underground oil pipeline that runs from Stanely, North Dakota to an oil farm in Patoka, Illinois that takes a harsh toll on the environment by invading Native American land and running over many rivers in their already limited territory. 

If there were to be an oil spill, which is likely, then indigenous drinking water and surroundings would be contaminated, permanently damaging both the natural environment and directly causing harm to Native American individuals. Moreover, due to the amount of oil transported through this pipeline, many concerns have been raised in regards to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions the pipeline will create. This increase would have the potential to contaminate several bodies of water, cause wildlife fatalities and damage ecosystems.

While the concern that jobs would be lost if the pipeline were to be shut down has been raised, climate change is impending. These jobs should not come at the expense of indigenous peoples’ livelihoods. These unsustainable and disingenuous jobs provide neither secure nor ethical work, whereas moving to more sustainable energy sources creates more secure job availability. 

The pipeline must be shut down in order to mitigate its exacerbation of climate change and to remain in accordance with the treaties our country agreed upon alongside Native Americans.  Preserving our environment and our people will provide a healthier future for society.