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Letter: Dakota Access Pipeline a risk for America

updated: 3/10/2017 1:26 PM

To the editor:

The potential completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) illustrates yet again a long negative history of how the American people and the U.S. government have interacted with Native Americans. The ownership of the land the pipeline is being constructed on is at dispute, and thus illustrates how the American people and the U.S. government violate treaties signed with Native Americans. While an entire letter could be written just on that topic, I won't focus on this point. History shows us that the majority of Americans won't be moved by the mistreatment of indigenous Americans. Therefore, I will focus on what should matter to the American people: the water we all drink.
The DAPL is a pipeline project designed to transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline will run under the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The tribes have formed a group (Water Protectors) who have been protesting the pipeline running under the Missouri River. The river is a sacred body of water and is the only source of drinking water for the reservation. The Water Protectors have reason to be concerned about the danger to this valuable water source. The original construction plans for DAPL had the pipeline running close to Bismarck, but the plans were changed. The reality of 3,000 pipeline spills in the U.S. since 2010 made that move happen. The risk of a spill is very real. A spill in the Missouri River could not only devastate the water supply for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, but also for the over 18 million other Americans who live downstream and drink water from the Missouri River.
Recently, 2,000 American veterans went to North Dakota to stand with Standing Rock and try and protect the drinking water of millions of Americans. As a result, the Army Corps of Engineers, under direction from the Obama Administration, decided to perform a legally required environmental impact study instead of granting an exception for DAPL. However, as one of President Trump's first executive orders, he has ordered the construction to move forward. Are we really going to put the safety of millions of Americans' drinking water below the profits of the oil industry? Are we really going to risk our most precious resource to further the use of carbon based fuels that we all know we must stop using? Are we really going to violate another treaty with Native Americans?

Anthony Stephens, Marion

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