[TRIGGER WARNING: In this article I may occasionally refer to Native Americans as “Indians.”]
The Dakota Access Pipeline that will move oil from the Bakken fields in northwest North Dakota to an oil tank farm in Illinois is the subject of much controversy these days. It has drawn international attention and a slew of Hollywood celebrities have weighed in on the subject as well as politicians and some Indian leaders. There the the usual ones like Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Susan Sarandon. Even a non-rhyming Jesse Jackson showed up to declare the proposed pipeline route the worst “act of environmental racism” he has ever witnessed.
This assorted group of goofball, uninformed miscreant social justice warriors are showing their ignorance in typical knee-jerk fashion. This could be considered the Keystone Pipeline controversy in microcosm, but with greater drama. After all, when you assemble a cast like that above, it has all the ingredients of a box office hit. Throw in some water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures and it will get an Academy Award nomination.
However, a few key facts are overlooked by the demonstrators which seems to be par for the course for these overpaid Hollywood hacks. First, despite portrayals to the contrary, this is NOT a united Native American fight. In fact, Politico of all places, highlighted this fact. Robert Fool Bear is the district chairman of Cannon Ball, the nearest town to the demonstrations with a population of 840. He stated that the demonstrators have been a royal pain the town’s ass and said that if the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had a problem with the pipeline, they were silent two years ago when hearings on the proposed line were held. Simply, the tribe did not care then. When protesters petitioned the town for a permit for an encampment, the town turned it down in a 66-22 vote. Further, as the reporter for Politico noted, you will not find too many Standing Rock Sioux demonstrating.
Others interviewed said they looked forward to the pipeline because it meant less tanker trucks and railway cars carrying oil from the Bakken fields. Of course, the biggest fear about pipelines is that they will break and cause pollution. However, compared to derailments- one of which caused the evacuation of a North Dakota town- the safety record of pipelines far exceeds that of the rail or tanker truck industry.
The protesters prefer to call themselves “water protectors” because where the demonstrations are occurring is where the pipeline crosses underneath the Missouri River which is a source of water for the Sioux tribes. The pipeline is going to be submerged under the riverbed with monitors on either side to ensure that no leaks are occurring. The main water intake for the Standing Rock Sioux is in Fort Yates- about 30 miles south of the pipeline. What the protesters fail to tell anyone is that this intake plant has been slated for closure since 2003. The federal government has granted more than $41 million for a new intake system of which the Standing Rock Sioux have received $26 million.
The new intake system is being constructed in Mobridge which happens to be in South Dakota and 70 miles away from the pipeline. Hence, using water as the reason for these protests becomes less obvious the more facts are introduced into the discussion.
If not water, then surely this pipeline must be a danger to sacred Indian burial sites. The site of the protests is at Lake Oahe which the demonstrators say is the most threatened not only for water pollution, but also the desecration of important sacred Sioux land. However, there is a problem with that argument. The Northern Border Pipeline already crosses the river at this point. If the Northern Border Pipeline did not destroy cultural artifacts, the Dakota Access Pipeline likely will not do it either. In short, suddenly this land has become sacred to the Sioux when it wasn’t when the other pipeline was built, nor have archaeologists who have extensively studied and excavated the area found anything of cultural value- no burial grounds, no ceremonial areas…nothing.
So if not water and not desecration of sacred sites, then what? The answer explains why these Hollywood types not named Marlon Brando have suddenly latched onto the plight of the Indians- global warming.
Oil is a fossil fuel and environmentalists and Hollywood liberals hate fossil fuels… except when they heat or air condition their homes, or fly their planes to the next movie set, or Tweet out stupid solidarity with the Indians statements. But, here is the funniest part about the whole thing: despite what anyone thinks about global warming, whether the pipeline gets built or not, it will not stop the extraction of oil from the Bakken fields. More importantly, that oil will somehow get transported out of the Bakken fields and refined. Without the pipeline, that oil will get transported in rail cars or tanker trucks to the nearest refinery. Incidentally, rail cars and trucks do not run on solar power, but pipelines can.
Now it is quite likely that Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Susan Sarandon may lay their flabby, old bodies in front of bulldozers and DiCaprio and company may form a human chain, but in the end, that oil is being pumped from the ground and it is being transported and it is being refined somewhere. Unless they march on the oil fields themselves where they may encounter some rather angry well-paid workers, those are facts as cold as the North Dakota winter. It appears that liberals are not that progressive when progress is at stake.
It does not matter to these people…facts, that is. Instead, they view themselves as environmental heroes when they are nothing but slogan-chanting morons who, at the end of the day, care little about the drinking water of some Sioux tribe or non-existent sacred Indian sites. It’s another feather in their cap of “environmental sensitivity” and little more. Long after the pipeline is built, as even many of the real Sioux protesters predict will happen, Bernie will return to his home in the cold winter of Vermont and heat his home with a fossil fuel of some kind. He’ll likely get there in a vehicle powered by fossil fuels. Most of those showing solidarity with the Indians on social media will then bitch about the cost of heating their homes when winter hits. And left in North Dakota will be the Standing Rock Sioux tribe none the worse for wear other than the fact they were used by the Hollywood and political world’s environmental hucksters.