"Instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs, Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector where America's future lives" Annie Leonard, Greenpeace Director
By: Ojaswee Chaudhary
As seen repeatedly in many issues today, government resistance can be an enormous hindrance while fighting for a cause. Additionally, the government has had a tendency to specifically resist indigenous rights and the protection of their environment, Trump’s pipeline case being a prime example of this degrading tendency. The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines are two acts that have been or will be passed by the Trump administration. Though they claim the effects of these pipelines will be harmless, it’s clear to see, that in actuality, they will cause great harm to the environment and its inhabitants.
The Dakota Access pipeline and Keystone XL controversy was generated during the Obama administration, however it was quickly stopped and rerouted as authorities were aware of its damage. But, this Friday, Trump passed an executive order granting access for the Keystone XL Pipeline to be built. The pipelines are meant to allow oil to be transported in an easier, more efficient, and supposedly “environmentally friendly” way.
However, almost every stage of the pipelines being put in place will cause harm to the environment and the Native Americans living there. The damage caused by the Dakota Access and Keystone XL projects include endangering hundreds of different animals such as the whooping crane who have been flying into new power lines being used for the Keystone XL system. The pipelines also run through the homes of many species that are extremely close to becoming endangered once more, like the swift fox, and these pipelines might be all it takes to push them over.
As well as harming the wildlife, the pipelines will increase our dependency on fossil fuels, while we should be relying on completely opposite sources of energy. The State Department running the Keystone XL process claims it will have no new effects on greenhouse gas emission as even without the pipelines being built, oil will still be extracted from tar sands. However, the EPA challenged this allegation, stating that these pipelines will actually increase greenhouse gas emission; the State Department does not address the fact that the pipelines will make the oil extraction process faster, which will obviously create more greenhouse gases in the long run.
As well as the emissions, the area where the pipelines are being built will be completely demolished resulting in a mass number of trees being cut down. The Keystone XL location in the Nebraska sandhills is in itself a fragile ecosystem as the tar sand is acidic which will make the high pressure pipelines to be of even more harm, which was in fact proven by the previous oil spill in the existing Keystone lines.
In terms of the pipelines’ effects on the Standing Sioux tribe, water supply will be greatly contaminated and ancient monuments will be ruined. Additionally, the social impairments of the pipelines include threatened Native American sovereignty and loss of respect for the tribes. Becauses of this, the Standing Rock tribe, other indigenous groups, veterans, celebrities, and many common folk just like us have been fighting against this easement. They have attempted to reach out to the Trump administration through social media such as with the hashtag #NODAPL and through lawsuits, demonstrations, and civil disobedience.
The Trump administration has had ideas supporting the construction of the pipelines since the President’s campaign, disregarding the Tribe’s protests. Through his expedited, and supposedly scrutinizing review of the easement (the crossing of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe land), Trump, the Army Corps, and the Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) decided for the indigenous people in Dakota that it would not harm the tribe. He felt the Dakota Access and Keystone XL easements would do a few things:
Greenpeace director Annie Leonard summarizes this, stating "instead of pushing bogus claims about the potential of pipelines to create jobs, Trump should focus his efforts on the clean energy sector where America's future lives". We should be focusing on improving our current state of affairs regarding renewable energy sources that will have long-term benefits on all of humanity, instead of impulsively pushing for actions that will ultimately only benefit some groups of people.
Second, he believed the pipelines would transfer crude oil, apparently making domestic energy production more efficient. Extracting this oil would increase the US’s dependency on fossil fuels which completely defeats the purpose of making energy production more efficient. And, as stated before, oil spills are very probable and are likely to continue in the future, resulting in all the previous harms.
All these pipelines will ultimately do is cost the environment more than a fortune, further create long-lasting problems in the economy, and once again prove the irresponsible impulsiveness and lack of organization of today’s government. If Trump’s real goal genuinely is to better America, the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines are not the way to go.