A protest of a four-state oil pipeline being constructed in southern North Dakota has turned violent yesterday. The Associated Press reports Environmentalists and Indian activists clashed with security personnel resulting in over thirty people being pepper sprayed and six protesters being bitten by pipeline security guard dogs. Indian tribal leaders accuse construction crews of destroying burial and cultural sites while environmentalists allege the risk of pollution is too great. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners states its pipeline is safe and, when completed, will carry half a million barrels of crude oil a day.
Police initially were not present when the conflict took place but arrived shortly thereafter successfully dispersing the crowd. While no arrests were made during yesterday’s incident, arrests have been made prior in Boone, Iowa surrounding the same pipeline construction. Permits to build the pipeline were issued by the US Army Corp of Engineers back in July, despite objections raised by environmentalists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. An attempt was made by opponents to halt the pipeline’s construction in court but their petition was turned down.
Rich Hollywood liberals, such as Susan Sarandon and Leonardo DiCaprio have also joined in the chorus to halt the pipeline as well. If pipelines are not an option, transportation of oil takes place by water, truck, or train which results in more carbon emissions and the likelihood of increased accidents by one of those three methods. When more pollution results from oil transportation and the media reports this, environmentalists use such press coverage to make the case for more controls and other regulations that make transportation and even usage of those methods more difficult. This, in turn, restricts not only the flow of oil and other fossil fuels but ratchets up the price.
The conflict taking place in North Dakota is a perfect illustration as to what is at stake in the overall controversy with fossil fuels. On the one hand you have environmentalists and Indians justifying their opposition to the pipeline based on mysticism. On the other side is Energy Transfer Partners who supported its assertions and made the case for its construction based on the facts. Energy Transfer Partners successfully got the permits and was able to defend their pipeline in court. Ultimately, the opponents of the pipeline are attacking the pipeline in order to halt the distribution of fossil fuels. It would be interesting to find out how much fossil consumption was used to get the protesters to North Dakota.