Dakota Access Pipeline & You
“If you are hundreds of miles away and feeling disconnected from the Dakota Access Pipeline, you’re not.”
At this point, everyone has heard about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the crusade against it that has gained international coverage for the injustices occurring against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and supporters. A lot of us who are removed from the action likely aren’t familiar with the project that is happening.
In short, the pipeline would be 1,100 miles long connecting the Bakken Formation in North Dakota with Patoka, Illinois — a small town with a population less than 600 people. Patoka would just be a stop for the 570,000 barrels of oil transported each day, as it would then be transported across the midwest or to the gulf where most of the oil refineries are house in the United States.
The oil shipped to these refineries is used for exactly the things you think: gasoline, petroleum, heating systems, propane and asphalt. It is also used for things you might not think of like plastic, clothing, furniture and home insulation. All things that are great and very much so needed in our society.
Due to this, the United States produces approximately 9.5 million barrels of oil per day making it the 3rd largest producer of oil in the world. Consumption rate in the United States is about 19 million barrels every day which lands it at the first largest consumer of oil, consuming 9 million barrels per day more than China, the second largest consumer of oil. Around the world approximately 80 million barrels of oil are produced and used every day.
The transportation and consumption of oil has resulted in some of the most memorably devastating environmental disasters, mostly concerning oil spilling into our oceans and affecting tons of wildlife as well as beachgoers. There are pipelines all over our country that can burst and leech oil into our environment including into our drinking water, a main concern for the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
If you are hundreds of miles away and feeling disconnected from the Dakota Access Pipeline, you’re not. Every moment you are using goods that are produced from the oil that could be part of the 570,000 barrels they are hoping to pump from North Dakota. As I type this article, I am using a laptop made of mostly plastic, I am wearing clothes that were likely produced using oil, and I am flying on a Boeing 737 using loads of gasoline.
Each one of us can make small differences in our lifestyles to decrease the consumption of oil. While changing to renewable energy is an obvious choice, there are things that are smaller and if each person makes a good decision then it will add up to make a huge difference. Ask for no straw in your drink, buy your basics at a thrift store, replace your battery in your laptop or phone instead of buying a new one.
Change the rate of demand and they will change the rate of supply. Small steps towards a more sustainable life can result in protected water for people, animals, and the environment.
Picture of DAPL Courtesy of Carl Wycoff