The five claims that make up the foundation of last year’s Dakota Access pipeline protests are falsehoods. Not “that’s just their opinion” falsehoods; these claims are patently and demonstrably untrue. Yet they continue to thrive in the fertilizer-rich environment of the Internet.
The five fictitious pillars of the #NoDAPL movement are:
1. The Dakota Access pipeline runs through tribal lands.
2. The pipeline was constructed without any consultation with the Native American tribes in the region.
3. Construction of the pipeline desecrated sites that were sacred or culturally important to Native Americans.
4. The pipeline has created an increased risk of water contamination.
5. And the company building the pipeline, the security team it employs, and local law enforcement have engaged in abusive behavior of “peaceful” protesters.
Fortunately, Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the Dakota Access pipeline, recently filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and other extreme anti-pipeline activists and stuffed it chock full of concrete, indisputable, see-for-yourself facts that completely dispel the myths that the anti-pipeline activists are peddling. Here is just a small sample of myth-busting facts taken verbatim from the 231-page complaint.
First, not one inch of the Dakota pipeline sits on or under Native American soil.
The entire pipeline was constructed almost exclusively on private land, with the remaining land comprised entirely of federal, not tribal lands … In addition, wherever possible the route was designed to traverse already-disturbed property that was the site of other decades-old public works projects, including gas and power lines, to avoid environmentally or culturally sensitive areas.
Second, every Native American tribe with property “near or potentially affected by the proposed pipeline route” was approached repeatedly by both Energy Transfer Partners and the Army Corps of Engineers.
During the planning and construction of the pipeline, DAPL attempted to directly engage relevant tribes even though the project does not pass over any sovereign Native American territory at any point along its route … In addition, the Corps separately held dozens of meetings with tribes regarding DAPL.
Some tribes elected to engage with DAPL and the Corps, and, as a result, the pipeline was rerouted repeatedly to avoid areas deemed culturally important, even though not on sovereign land … Other tribes, including specifically the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, refused to work with DAPL and declined offers to participate in cultural surveys of aspects of the route that were not subject to review by the Corps.
Third, no sacred or culturally significant sites were harmed during construction.
On September 9, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia set forth in “significant detail” how Dakota Access chose the pipeline route to avoid encroaching on Native People’s rights, lands and sacred sites … The court emphasized Energy Transfer’s careful consideration of historic artifacts, noting that Energy Transfer “prominently considered” the “potential presence of historic properties” in choosing the route for the pipeline, consulting past cultural surveys and hiring professionally licensed archaeologists to conduct “extensive new cultural surveys of its own.”
Fourth, there is virtually no risk of contamination to the “sacred waters” of Lake Oahe or any other water crossing.
DAPL crosses under the Missouri River in two locations: under the man-made Lake Oahe; and near Willinston, North Dakota. In both locations, DAPL is located 100% adjacent to and within 22 to 300 feet from the Northern Border Pipeline, a 1,249 mile, 42-inch natural gas pipeline, built in 1982 by the Northern Border Pipeline Company, which for four decades has safely transported natural gas.
Moreover, while DAPL is generally buried 4 feet below the surface, at the Lake Oahe crossings, the pipeline was installed at a depth of 140 to 210 feet beneath the surface of the federal land it traverses and approximately 90 to 115 feet deep beneath the lakebed … Like other major water body crossings, the crossing at Lake Oahe was engineered with heavier wall thickness than standard pipe, making that segment of the pipeline stronger and better able to withstand higher operating pressure.
And finally, the “abusive behavior” that occurred at Standing Rock was instigated—and funded by—the activists themselves.
Earth First!, along with Greenpeace and other members, funded and supported the eco-terrorist militant group Red Warrior Camp with $500,000 in seed money to fund its violent campaigns against DAPL. Additionally, Earth First! distributed its “Direct Action Manual,” a playbook laying out techniques for vandalism and property destruction to stop energy infrastructure development, including tactics such as slashing tires, pouring sand into the gas tanks of construction equipment, and locking down construction equipment, at the protest camps.
We’ll keep you posted as this lawsuit—and the facts it contains—works its way through the judicial system.