AOC Fumbles Dakota Access Pipeline Facts

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a number of incorrect statements about the Dakota Access Pipeline during a House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday. Despite traveling to North Dakota in 2016 to participate in the #NoDAPL protests, the freshman congresswomen falsely claimed among other things that:

The Dakota Access Pipeline was built “in defiance of the Standing Rock Sioux’s treaty rights.”

At no point does the Dakota Access Pipeline cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The pipeline crosses the Missouri River at Lake Oahe to the north of the reservation and runs parallel to the route to an existing natural gas pipeline built in the 1980s. Furthermore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held nearly 400 meetings with indigenous groups, including 11 with the officials Standing Rock. As a result, the pipeline’s route was altered 140 times in North Dakota alone to avoid potential cultural and historic resources.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is “environmentally unstable” and will negatively impact the climate.

Pipelines are the safest, most efficient, and environmentally sensitive way to transport energy resources. In fact, researchers in Canada recently calculated that, when compared to pipelines, an accident is over 4.5 times more likely to occur when oil is shipped via rail. Pipelines also have a much smaller carbon footprint than rail alternatives. One recent study estimated that pipelines cut greenhouse gas emissions by upwards of 80 percent.

With that in mind, the Dakota Access Pipeline has eliminated the need for over 700 oil railcars everyday. That means over 4.5 million fewer oil railcars have passed through North Dakota since the pipeline went into service.

American taxpayers are responsible for the cleanup costs associated with a pipeline spill.

This is false. The Oil Spill Pollution Act of 1990 states that the party responsible for the spill is liable for its effects, including paying for environmental damage and the cost of cleanup operations. Emergency funding is also provided by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which is funded by oil taxes.

The Dakota Access Pipeline has “leaked at least five times.”

There have been six inadvertent oil discharges involving the Dakota Access Pipeline, according to data provided by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Each of the incidents occurred at either valve sites or pump stations and were isolated to a concrete work areas. In fact, four of the leaks occurred during a testing period before the pipeline was placed into service. The six releases amounted to a little over six barrels of oil which is less than 1/10,000 percent of the pipeline’s 570,000 barrel per day capacity.