The Dakota Pipeline Protests, Explained

Daily News Article - December 5, 2016


1. For how many days have protests taken place over the Dakota Access Pipeline?

2. List the issues protesters are concerned about in general.

3. a) How long is the pipeline?
b) How much oil per day will be transported through the pipeline?
c) What are the starting and ending locations of the pipeline?
d) How much of the pipeline is complete? What portion is being protested?

4. What groups are part of the protests?

5. a) For what reasons is the Standing Rock Sioux tribe protesting the pipeline?
b) How does University of Washington’s Aseem Prakash explain the Standing Rock tribe’s opposition to the pipeline?

6. How has the company building the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, defended its construction?

7. The area of the pipeline that is the center of the controversy must be granted permits from the federal government. How has President Obama addressed the continuing protests and controversy?

8. The Daily Signal also reported:

Media reports have documented violent clashes between police and protesters. Authorities have used rubber bullets, pepper spray, and water cannons against demonstrators, according to the tribe, and hundreds have been injured.

“The state has overreacted,” Prakash said. “You don’t need a militarized response to a peaceful protest. You don’t need cops in Humvees. It looks like a military operation. In any democratic society, the right to protest is a fundamental right.”

Many public officials, including Congressman Cramer and Cody Schulz, the Morton County Commission chairman, defend the force used by police, however. They say that some out-of-state protesters have instigated the violence, and they view the protest as an illegal occupation of federal land.

“Our law enforcement has exercised incredible restraint,” Rep. Cramer said. “We are living in a time where officers are executed at point-blank range on a regular basis. One thing about North Dakotans is we don’t confuse enforcing the law with breaking the law.”

What do you think of the assertions made by the protesters and these local officials? With whom do you agree? Explain your answers.

9. Also from The Daily Signal:

All parties agree that the Obama administration is running out of time to see through the end of the conflict. Yet local officials are waiting for help.

Morton County Commission chairman Cody Schultz says he is frustrated with Washington because the federal government’s indecision has prolonged the demonstrations and drained local law enforcement money.

Requests for federal law enforcement assistance have been denied, he said, adding: “Absolutely this a federal issue. We are talking about a federal easement, this case has been heard in federal court, the protests are occurring on federal property, and the federal agencies are the ones that put the pipeline on hold. The federal government has failed miserably at addressing it.”

Considering this, do you think President Obama should have made a decision on the pipeline? Explain your answer.

10. What did Morton County’s Cody Schulz say that leads you to believe officials want to maintain a good relationship with the Standing Rock Sioux?

Note: Over the weekend, 2,000 U.S. military veterans headed to North Dakota to, they say, “protect the protesters”.  On Sunday the Army Corp of Engineers announced they will not immediately grant the Dakota Access Pipeline the right to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. (The Army Corps of Engineers is a U.S. federal agency under the Department of Defense. These agencies answer to the president.)