The stand-off at Standing Rock continues as Native Americans (mostly Sioux) are joined by left-wing actresses and others using this opportunity to protest the North Dakota Access Pipeline, pipelines in general, fossil fuels and imminent domain.
According to their Facebook posts, I know at least two of these protestors - a grand-niece and a former coworker - and while I know a little bit about their beliefs, I would not presume to explain why they are there.
The Sioux object to the pipeline because it crosses sacred ground - the media has tried to imply that this means that it goes through graveyards, but even the Indians admit they have no idea where their ancestors might have been buried. Their other concern is that a leak could do terrible damage to the water supply, not only in the immediate area, but potentially the entire Missouri River.
Pipeline spills do happen, but there is no question that pipelines are by far the safest way to transport oil - much safer than trucks or railroads. And - this 30 inch pipe parallels a pipeline that has been in operation without incident since 1982. There are over 2.4 million miles of pipelines in the USA, and in spite of occasional incidents like the explosion in Alabama this past week, the environmental effect has been very near zero.
Before the pipeline was approved, North Dakota held over two years of Town Hall meetings, and though they were urged to participate, the Sioux never attended, and never filed any paperwork in opposition to the project. That, to me, brings into question the legitimacy of their protesting now.
Nobody likes Imminent Domain if it affects them directly - I certainly wouldn't want a freeway running through my property - but, without it, we would have no railroads, pipelines or highways. This pipeline will connect some of the newest and most active oilfields in the country to a system of lines that could bring North Dakota crude all the way to refineries near Beaumont, Texas.
I can't see how that is such a bad thing.