The oil industry is used often by liberals to attack conservatives because it’s very easy to ignore the facts and focus on the media headlines. The issue most often cited with oil (specifically pipelines), is that they destroy the environment. Naysayers conjure images of deforested lands, rivers plagued by ugly steel, and animals sent away from their homes, but the opposite of this is true.
As I write this, the Army Corps of Engineers announced they will be blocking the Dakota Access Pipeline after months of protest by First Nations and environmental groups, and just a few days after the liberal Government of Canada announced they would be delaying the Northern Gateway Pipeline. Despite popular rhetoric, these two pipelines were both run through the proper government channels and posed no major threat to the people, or the lands on which they would run. The delays simply cater to the protesters’ demands and fail to solve any real problems, only creating more. The Dakota Access Pipeline’s Official Website states,
“The Dakota Access Pipeline Project is a new approximate 1,172-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that will connect the rapidly expanding Bakken and Three Forks production areas in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline will enable domestically produced light sweet crude oil from North Dakota to reach major refining markets in a more direct, cost-effective, safe and environmentally responsible manner. The pipeline will also reduce the current use of rail and truck transportation to move Bakken crude oil to major U.S. markets to support domestic demand.”
This pipeline is designed for safety, while simultaneously creating jobs and state revenue. It is estimated that the pipeline will create fifty million dollars annually in property taxes, and seventy-four million dollars in sales taxes to the four states it spans- North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois- that would, in turn, be used to support schools, roads, emergency services, and more.
Another of the biggest complaints against the pipeline is the fact that the original route for the pipeline, through the town of Bismarck, was fought heavily by residents of the town and so the Army Corps rerouted it south in a more direct line, touching just north of the Standing Rock Reservation at Lake Oahe. Protestors cite a fear of water contamination, as the area of the pipeline crossing, is also the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s primary source of drinking water. However, rerouting the pipeline southwards actually removes a large area of construction, preserving many more acres of pristine land around both Standing Rock and the town of Bismarck. The original route also was in far closer proximity to more bodies of water, and thus, an increased chance of contamination. This pipeline also removes the need for rail transport, which has proven to be a far riskier choice.
The pipeline, which will be underground, provides practically no chance of water contamination. Pipelines were an innovation created to transport oil much safer than the alternative: rail-cars. A study done by the Fraser Institute shows that using pipelines to move oil is far safer than by rail. Ken Green, the head author of the study, said, “I hope it becomes better understood that saying ‘No’ to a pipeline is saying ‘Yes’ to rail and [to do so] is to increase the risk to the environment and human health and not decrease it.”
Oil is essential to our world, and as alternative energy sources begin to be explored we must recognize that shutting off the oil tap overnight isn’t possible. What is possible, however, is creating safe modes of oil transport, support for communities, jobs for those who don’t have education in new energy technologies, and a way to continue the necessary production of oil sustainability.
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