How I learned to stop worrying and love the pipeline
John Bruce, NEWS COLUMNIST
The Trudeau government approved the construction of two pipelines in November 2016. I think we will be hearing a lot of people’s opinions about them on social media in 2017, similar to what we saw with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). I think many of the arguments against it were flawed. Here’s why.
Protesters said DAPL was being built on sacred indigenous burial grounds. According to KCCI, a CBS television news affiliate, archaeologists surveyed the area and didn’t find any evidence of human or cultural remains.
Some indigenous people don’t believe these findings. Elder Faith Spotted Eagle, who spoke with CNN, says she thinks archaeologists, who are “taught from a colonial structure,” are not qualified to determine where burial sites are.
Well, I think that if no human remains were found at the construction site, then it is perfectly reasonable to ascertain the land is not a burial ground.
I suppose the Sioux could still argue the land has historical and spiritual significance that can’t be scientifically proven, but I think as long as DAPL is built according to regulations and no evidence of cultural remains are found, then it’s reasonable to build a pipeline there.
Here’s another argument I heard a lot: DAPL was an example of racism against indigenous people.
As the Bismarck Tribune reported, activist Rev. Jesse Jackson said rerouting the pipeline from its original location north of Bismarck was “the ripest case of environmental racism I’ve seen in a long time.”
“Bismarck residents don’t want their water threatened,” Jackson continued, “so why is it OK for North Dakota to react with guns and tanks when Native Americans ask for the same right?”
I think he was implying white people, who according to census information make up 90 per cent of the population of Bismarck, have the privilege and power to request DAPL to be moved.
But that’s not why the pipeline was rerouted. The Bismarck Tribune said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) rejected the original route that passed north of Bismarck because it crossed too many bodies of water and violated other regulations. The reroute near Standing Rock would threaten fewer sources of water.
So I don’t think it was moved because of lack of respect of indigenous people – it was moved so it would be safer.
I understand people of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s concern for their water source, the Missouri River, but I think the pipeline is safe. According to the USACE website, all regulations would be followed during construction, and according to the Bismarck Tribune, the pipeline will be installed 90 feet below the river in question to protect the water against breaks in the pipeline.
So much of my lifestyle depends on oil, including heating my home, plastics, and transportation. I think it’s hypocritical for me to be anti-pipeline when I depend on oil so much. My consumption empowers these companies. Unless I’m willing to seriously change the way I consume, I don’t think I have the right to argue against it.
The pipeline construction has been halted. I believe this is due to the misinformed backlash against it.
I hope you consider the other side of the argument before you post on social media next time a story like this becomes sensationalized.
John Bruce tried to be a rockstar, tried to be a boxer, and now he’s trying to be a writer.
If you want an unsolicited opinion from him don’t be afraid not to ask.
He tries to Tweet at @thejohnnybruce