Cultural Connection

We are killing our planet

Miranda Martinez, Cactus Writer

The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access line runs from western North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. The $3.8 billion project became a focus of international attention in the last year, drawing protesters from around the world, after a Native American tribe sued to block completion of the final link of the pipeline through a remote part of North Dakota. Yet, even with all the protesting, the pipeline looks set to go into service on May 14th. President Trump recently brought back the building of this pipeline after Obama had, for the most part, shut it down This caused a lot of controversy and many horrors have come to light. This last December about 530,000 gallons of oil is now believed to have spilled from the Belle Fourche Pipeline that was likely ruptured by a slumping hillside about 16 miles northwest of Belfield in Billings County, Health Department environmental scientist Bill Seuss said. The earlier estimate was about 176,000 gallons. The site of the spill is roughly 150 miles from Cannon Ball, where protesters aligned with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe camped out in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline for this last year. Those camps were cleared after President Donald Trump approved the disputed project, siding against activists who fear a spill could contaminate a lake that provides drinking water and that Native Americans hold sacred.

It is still unknown how much oil flowed into Ash Coulee Creek in the December spill, which feeds into the Little Missouri River, a tributary of the Missouri River. Seuss said no oil made it into those rivers or into any drinking water source, but that the focus is on cleaning up the creek before spring grazing season, since cattle drink from the waterway. There have been no confirmed cases of livestock or wildlife deaths related to the spill. One rancher reported some cattle deaths but refused to allow the state veterinarian to do an autopsy, according to Seuss. Cleanup crews also found a dead beaver, but it’s not known what caused the death. The pipeline had been leaking since being restarted on Dec. 1 following routine maintenance, Seuss said. A landowner discovered the spill on Dec. 5. Since then there has been little to no talk about the spill or how they were going about dealing with the leak. And as of, April 18th they had given a statement on the dates they wished to finally put the pipeline to work. With that date, May 14th, looming closer and closer we worry there will be more leaks and spills that will damage this sacred land and put the drinking water for thousands at risk.