CLAIM: A recent opinion column in The Watchdog was loaded with misinformation regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. One of the most egregious claims was regarding the pipeline’s route:
But when a wealthy, white community doesn’t want their water poisoned by oil? Well then, no problem, thanks for letting us know, we’ll get right on it. The original route for the Dakota Access pipeline was routed above Bismarck, North Dakota. According to ABC news, that route was rejected to “protect wells that serve the municipal water supply.” No fight, no fuss, but then again, that shouldn’t surprise any of us considering Bismarck is almost 95% white.
As Standing Rock Fact Checker, Snopes, and The Bismarck Tribune noted years ago, the current DAPL route was always preferred to the Bismarck route, as the Bismarck route would have crossed 27 more waterways, more agriculture land, and would have been significantly is longer. These reports were confirmed by Bismarck mayor Mike Seminary who said there was never a discussion held with the city regarding the project’s routing.
It was the route included with the pipeline’s permit application to the North Dakota Public Services Commission in December 2014 and was chosen as the final route for the pipeline application as early as September 2014.
It is important to also note the final route, which does not cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation land at all, was selected in order to have minimal environmental impacts and to respect private tribal lands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Environmental Assessment noted that in addition to significantly less water crossings, the Bismarck route “was in proximity to and/or crossing multiple conservation easements, habitat management areas, National Wildlife Refuges, state trust lands, waterfowl production areas, and private tribal lands.” The final route respects tribal-owned and operates “at a distance sufficient such that there are no direct or indirect impacts to Tribal lands, members or protected cultural resources.”