According to findings of the research, environmental racism is a form of segregation where individuals are forced to live in degraded environments such as pollution, urban decay, and toxic waste. The proposed Dakota Access Pipeline was used to transport crude oil from North Dakota via South Dakota into Illinois. The pipeline is referred to as Bakken Oil pipeline for the rich areas of North Dakota (McCauley& Prupis, 2016). The Dakota Access who was the project developer argued that the pipeline would help America to become less dependent in the importation of energy from unstable areas of the world. Standing Rock Sioux based in North Dakota is acknowledged as a successor of Great Sioux Nation. Native Americans formed demonstrations accusing the officers of law enforcement of their inhumane treatments. The individuals of the minority race declared that the brutality from the police would not prevent them from fighting the establishment of the oil project.
In the year 2016, it turned out as a turning point of the leadership of Native Americans regarding environmental activism. It was a protest against the known pipeline that captured the global imaginations that erupted in a worldwide global action. However, the administration of Obama rejected the fossil fuel project in the face of opposition from landowners and environmentalists (Mc Cauley& Prupis, 2016). The Native Americans were not the first group to oppose the project because landowners in Lowa had raised their grievances more than a year earlier. On the other hand, a significant number of America Indians were raising their demand for the need to protect drinking water.
For an extended period of time, the tribes of Native Americans led by Standing Rock Sioux have been protesting against Dakota Access Pipeline. In the demonstrations, they argued that a completion of the project would degrade ancestral lands, affect the supply of water and put a lot of burden on Standing Rock Sioux tribe who would not accrue any benefits from the economic development of the project. On the other hand, Energy Transfer Partners which was the company behind the project argued that the pipeline would result in increased efficiency in comparison to the trains that were in operation in the movement of crude oil.
Over several months, a large number of indigenous people gathered at the crossing of Missouri and the territories of Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Through the use of non-violent strategies, the main objective was to stop the establishment of the Dakota pipeline to connect the oil production fields in Dakota to the ones in Illinois. The main fear, however, was that the project would affect the quality of water for the tribal communities. In a close analysis of the project, it was clear that it had already caused the destruction of sacred burial grounds. Similarly, the DAPL was a form of decolonization for the indigenous people who were advocating that there was the need to maintain the quality of water and their heritage, which are two things that are tied close together.
According to climate analysts, the Native Americans would suffer a number of climatic problems more than others. For instance, burning of fuels and deforestation in the preparation of the pipeline project would cause changes in climate producing conditions in the environment that would disrupt the lives of human societies through raised sea levels, the severity of droughts and warming of fresh waters (Fragoso,2016). The climatic organizations also make it clear that the indigenous individuals would suffer more in comparison to other communities from the changed conditions of the environment.
The Native Americans during the protests argued that the suffering was not justified as it resulted from something that they did not cause. For instance, some of them had to relocate due to the rise of sea levels in the Arctic and Gulf of Mexico (Fragoso, 2016). It was clear that it was the societies that were more technologically advanced who were causing the environmental issues though the Native Americans suffered more. As a result, the protectors were creating awareness on the need to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. It was further predicted that the continued dependence of the project would cause disproportional negative effects among the communities.
The Native Americans were at the center of objections for the construction since it would travel under the Missouri river, which was the main source of drinking water. The builders of the pipeline insisted that they had taken appropriate measures to safeguard against disasters. In the year 2010, there were more than 3300 incidents of oil leaks and ruptures at the gas pipeline. The rejection to the construction of the pipeline showed a concern of the environmentalists to prevent climate change. The project is a clear show of how primitive individuals are ignored in the development process. The Standing Rock Sioux made a decision to call upon the government to intervene based on the environmental racial segregation that would result from the pipeline.
In conclusion, the Dakota Access Pipeline established in Dakota would result to climatic changes that would affect the Native Americans disproportionately in comparison to other American communities. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and other allies protested against the construction stating that it would affect the quality of water. The clashes resulting from the DAPL resulted to increased clashes between Native Americans and the personnels of the company that was constructing the pipeline. Obama opted to meet up with the leaders of Native Americans to protect the tribe against adverse climatic issues. The Dakota Access Pipeline would be the largest In the North Dakota though would result in increased environmental issues.
- Fragoso, A. D. (2016, September 22). Dakota Access pipeline is a long-haul fight, but tribes have scored a key victory. Retrieved January 25, 2017, from https://thinkprogress.org/native-americans-key-win-after-dakota-access-712b164b769f#.g4v3zjoqx
- McCauley, L., & Prupis, N. (2016). United States: Native American-led anti-pipeline protests swell. Green Left Weekly, (1108), 17.
- The Dakota Access Pipeline: A Legal Environmental Justice Perspective. (n.d.). Retrieved January 25, 2017, from http://www.jurist.org/dateline/2016/09/Dayna-Jones-dakota-pipeline.php