Internet activists have promulgated a series of myths for months about the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, which ultimately helped activists bring the project to a screeching halt.
American Indian groups and environmentalists have relentlessly blasted the nearly 1,200-mile-long pipeline, arguing the DAPL’s construction would trample on tribal lands and destroy ancient tribal artifacts. They also believe it could potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.
The multi-billion dollar DAPL, which is expected to bring 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day from western North Dakota to southern Illinois, was rejected by the Army Corps of Engineers on Dec.4 after initially approving it in July.
The project, once completed, will create up to 12,000 construction jobs, and provide millions in state and local revenues during the construction phase and an estimated $129 million annually in property and income taxes, according to the Army Corps.
Much of the criticisms directed at the DAPL, and Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), are built upon several myths that have made the rounds during the months-long protest. Here is a list of the five most commonly held myths associated with the pipeline.
The Government Never Properly Consulted With Standing Rock
The Army Corps attempted more than a dozen times between 2014 and 2016 to discuss the DAPL route with Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Its members either failed to respond to requests for consultation or dragged their feet during the process.
The Corps was seeking feedback on the line’s construction: i.e. to determine whether the DAPL would violate the tribe’s sacred ground.
On Oct. 24, 2014, for instance, the government sent a letter to the tribe with information about the proposed pipeline routes as well as maps documenting the known cultural sites the Corps had identified.
Federal Judge James Boasberg eventually denied the motion for a preliminary injunction to the tribe, arguing it could not show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground.
“In addition,” he wrote, “the letter requested that any party interested in consulting on the matter reply within thirty days. No response was received from the Tribe”
There are other examples of the tribe delaying the process, including on Feb. 12, 2015, when the Corps Senior Field Archaeologist Richard Harnois emailed tribe preservation officer Waste Win Young to solicit comments on the issue of pipeline drilling – but, again, no reply.
State regulators also contend the Standing Rock neglected to take seriously the pipeline’s construction.
Julie Fedorchak, who serves as the chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, told National Public Radio in a November interview that the Standing Rock Sioux did not participate in the nearly 30 hours of meetings held to determine the pipeline’s southern route.
The DAPL Cuts A Swath Through The Standing Rock Reservation
The DAPL route does not cut through Standing Rock’s reservation — in fact, the southern route (the route currently under dispute) is located several miles north of the tribe’s ancestral land.
Opponents also believe the pipeline has trounced all over the tribe’s ancient burial grounds and artifacts, but reports show the line was modified more than 141 times to satisfy those concerns.
The tribe has attempted to meander around that problem by arguing the land is theirs under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851.
“This demolition is devastating,” Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault II told reporters in October. “These grounds are the resting places of our ancestors.”
The treaty was forged between the U.S. government and the American Indian chieftains in the Great Sioux Nation, not Standing Rock.
It has been violated numerous times throughout the years by miners hunting for gold in the Black Hills, and tribes searching for fertile hunting grounds.The constant violations make it difficult to determine original ownership of the land.
Not every member of the Great Sioux Nation agreed to the stipulations etched out in the treaty – legendary warrior and Standing Rock Sioux ancestor Chief Sitting Bull, for one, refused to sign both the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.
Sitting Bull’s great-great grandson, Chief Delbert Black Fox Pomani, opposes the line and has made several public pleas for the DAPL to be rerouted.
The tribe is challenging the treaty and others like it in court for not being honored, despite the legal complexities connected to tribal treaties.