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Dozens Protest In Dallas Over Controversial Dakota Pipeline That Would Cross Through Ancestral Land

Gus Contreras / KERA News

On Friday afternoon, dozens of people gathered in front of Energy Transfer Partners in Dallas. They protested the company’s plans to build a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota. The same company is also behind the Trans-Pecos pipeline in Big Bend.

The 1,700 mi. Dakota Access pipeline would transport oil from western North Dakota to Illinois. It would run through the Missouri River where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe live.

They say the river is their main source of drinking water, and they are concerned about contamination.

“What they’re doing up in North Dakota with the pipeline trying to lay it down, we are in front of a corporation behind that,” protest organizer Yolonda Bluehorse said. “And behind many other pipelines that have been laid down and are projected to be laid down. Our voices will be heard today.”

Critics call this the “Keystone Pipeline 2.” That’s the controversial project from Canada to Texas, which was rejected last year by President Obama.

The Dakota Access pipeline would transport between 400,000 and 600,000 barrels of oil daily.

The tribe, whose reservation lies just south of the pipeline’s path, has asked a judge to stop construction. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe say that a leak or spill could be disastrous.

Credit Gus Contreras / KERA News

Frankie Orona is a director with the American Indian Movement of Central Texas.

“Corporate America know that they can no longer continue to do what they do,” he said at the protest. “And turn our sacred water into a commodity to a point where we’re not going to be able to have that for our future generations.”

Energy Transfer Partners say the pipeline will generate millions of dollars into local economies and create construction jobs. Supporters say the pipeline would reduce truck and oil train traffic.

Credit Creative Commons
The Dakota Access pipeline map.

ETP did not respond to KERA’s request for a comment.

In 2014, Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren talked with KERA’s Lee Cullum about the appeal of building a pipeline in North Dakota, home of the Baaken oilfield. He says transporting oil by train is not financially feasible.

“Almost all of the crude from the Baaken is being railed,” he said. “The reason for that is it’s a little early, it’s so far away from any consumption in the country if you think about where it is, there’s not a lot of refineries in that area. So therefore pipelines have not caught up. They will.”

But Standing Rock tribe says the Energy Transfer route passes through ancestral lands in the Dakotas. This has a deep meaning for Juan Mancias.

“You know, we’re 98 percent water,” he told protestors. “So when we cross over, that 98 percent water is evaporated into this atmosphere. It becomes the rains, it becomes the waters in the rivers, the waters of the lakes and oceans. Those are still our ancestors, that’s why that water is life, because it connects us.”

A federal judge will decide this month whether to allow the Dakota Access pipeline to move ahead, or grant an injunction that would halt construction.