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Reroute the Pipeline

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The obvious solution to the North Dakota pipeline protests is just to reroute the thing so that it stays far away from the reservations. This is not rocket science, even if it is largely completed outside of North Dakota. If it costs a little more to do this, then OK. Luckily, the Obama administration is looking into this option, which seems the most likely solution to me.

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  • Brett

    Good. And if it’s done, it’s a great victory for the Standing Rock Sioux.

  • Here’s a list of pipeline accidents in the US, just in 2016.

    Yeah, it’s a real mystery why anybody would object to having one of these running through their community.

    • delazeur

      That’s not really an argument for or against anything unless you compare it to truck and rail accidents. The reality is that even if we immediately started moving to a 100% renewable energy supply, we would still need a lot of fossil fuels in the short term. We need to identify the least impactful way to extract and transport those fossil fuels, we need to further reduce the impacts of those methods as much as we can, and we need to push for conversion to renewable energy as quickly as possible. Categorically arguing against fossil fuel infrastructure is an exercise in inanity; the new pipelines are almost certainly safer than the existing pipelines, after all. There are already pipelines running through or near most communities.

      • Bill Murray

        the new pipelines are almost certainly safer than the existing pipelines, after all

        and your evidence for this is?

        Also, you can route trucks around sensitive areas much more easily than about any other way, so even if trucks leak more, where they leak can be much more readily controlled.

        • delazeur

          That’s a weird thing to pick out of my comment and request a citation for, especially if you are going to follow it up with an unsourced claim that trucks are more easily routed around sensitive areas. Is anyone doing that, or proposing that it be done? Putting oil trucks on existing roads does not require the environmental review that building new pipelines does, there isn’t really that much more leeway in choosing truck routes compared to rail, you can’t economically transport natural gas by truck, and the relevant issue for trucks and rail is not leaks but crashes and derailments. No one who is serious about environmental protection believes that trucks are a good way to transport fossil fuels.

          Anyway, pipelines of any time obviously degrade over time, so even if you replaced old pipelines with exact replicas it would be an improvement. Additionally, newer pipelines are made with better materials (e.g., old cast iron natural gas pipes are a major source of methane emissions in some areas) and have remote sensors to detect leaks.

      • Rob in CT

        +1.

        Pipelines should be:

        1) Routed in a manner that reasonably attempts to avoid running them through vulnerable watersheds;

        2) Built to the highest level of safety we can manage;

        3) Inspected often; and

        4) Companies should have to put up funds to make sure that if they go belly up there is money for cleanups if needed.

        But seriously, rail/truck is way worse.

  • ResumeMan

    Interestingly though, if they do re-route the pipeline, that’s a welcome victory for the tribe, but does it do much good for the environment? I’m guessing that most of the non-tribal activists involved in this are most interested in stopping the pipeline, no?

  • kayden

    While the Feds are considering re-routing the pipeline, can they do something to stop the brutality directed at protesters? That appears to be the pressing issue.

    • delazeur

      Have the feds ever shown that they are capable of preventing police brutality? We get consent decrees with police departments every once in a while, but those don’t do anything in the very short term.

      • kayden

        Unfortunately, you’re right. I’m thinking back to the Civil Rights Movement but recall that the Feds were only sent in when the violence was initiated and propagated against Blacks by White civilians.

        • Aaron Morrow

          If by Feds you mean FBI, then they were often the ones initiating and propagating violence against black leaders in the Civil Rights Movement, a la COINTELPRO.

  • Nang Mai

    Re-routing the pipeline is not a solution. The science is clear and the deadline already past. We cannot burn the fossil fuels we have already extracted without causing a great deal of harm to the atmosphere and all the life on this planet. Continuing to build fossil fuel infrastructure is wasteful and unnecessary. Re-routing money and resources into renewable infrastructure might be a solution. Actually respecting treaties and the sovereignty & human rights of aboriginal people would be another solution to this tangle of problems. In response to delazeur, new pipelines are not safe and all pipelines eventually fail. Alberta had a large spill from a brand new state of the art pipeline just last year. Also, Sunoco, the company that would monitor and maintain the Dakota Access Pipeline if it is built has the worst record of all companies for pipeline spills and responses.

    • liberalrob

      We cannot burn the fossil fuels we have already extracted without causing a great deal of harm to the atmosphere and all the life on this planet.

      You know that and I know that, but Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco don’t make money by not building this pipeline. And they only exist to make money, as much money as they possibly can. That is the problem here.

      • Yankee

        and of course it would be totally impossible for all those people to take their management expertise, financial and engineering into some related endeavor, and repurpose or recycle the infrastructure.

        The only people who need GROWTH are the Capitalists.

        ETA: and their running-dog lackeys.

        • Nang Mai

          More than 50 years ago scientists warned the White House that the use of fossil fuels and unrestrained growth would lead to the exact situation we are facing. Those scientists weren’t a bunch of silly or inane hippies. They were straight laced physicists who did the math — scientists like Donald F. Hornig who helped develop the atomic bomb. The world could have spent the last half century in a managed and controlled withdrawal but has chosen the behaviour of addicts instead. That is what happens when policy reflects the values of capitalists instead of reason. The longer we wait to really mobilize against the use of fossil fuels the scarier the consequences are going to be.

    • delazeur

      The science is clear and the deadline already past. We cannot burn the fossil fuels we have already extracted without causing a great deal of harm to the atmosphere and all the life on this planet.

      The IPCC suggests that we have about 1,000 GtCO2e left in the carbon budget. Typically you will see recommendations for annual GHG emission reductions ranging from 1.5-8%, which does not require halting fossil fuel extraction immediately. Even the most extreme studies I have read have argued that we need to stop developing new fossil fuel sources but not that we need to stop extracting the ones that have already been developed.

      If you are going to claim that “the science is clear” and, by extension, that you are on the side of science, you should make sure that your claims actually match up with the scientific consensus.

      In response to delazeur, new pipelines are not safe and all pipelines eventually fail. Alberta had a large spill from a brand new state of the art pipeline just last year.

      That is, frankly, silly. I think I was pretty clear that I was talking about relative safety, not absolute safety. We need to be coming up with workable solutions, not just keeping our hands clean by moralizing about environmental protection on the internet.

      • Nang Mai

        We have already exceeded the real budget. Climate change is here.

        What is silly is thinking that where we are right now is ok or that we can continue to pretend that business as usual is in any way a sane proposition. Even if we stopped all consumption tomorrow the world will continue to heat up just because it takes time for these things to play out. CO2 has already reached 400 parts per million. That happened faster than we were hoping in part because several positive feedback loops have already been activated.

        • delazeur

          Okay, so you’re a carbon budget troofer. Why don’t you just run along and let the serious people work out a reality-based solution to this problem.

          • Nang Mai

            You are mistaken. The IPCC gave that figure about even odds to avoid catastrophe. To reach a four in five chance of preventing catastrophe, we have about 565 Gt CO2 left in our carbon budget until 2050. To limit warming to 1.5 ̊C or below, the goal stated in the Paris Agreement, the IPCC states emissions would require even stricter limits.

  • Nick Conway

    Is Standing Rock the biggest moment in the Native Rights movement since the 1970s? Obviously there have been some huge legal victories/defeats and legislation like NAGPRA, but in terms of public attention and public protest, this seems like it’s getting the most attention since the days of the Wounded Knee Standoff/Alcatraz Takeover.

    • Probably the Makah whaling fight, I would guess. And while it doesn’t have the social leftie cred, the rise of casinos is absolutely transformative.

      • Nick Conway

        I guess I meant more in terms of public attention, were the Makah whaling protests covered as heavily?

        • Oh definitely, but part of that was environmentalists protesting Indian behavior. So the reporting was complex and a bit exoticized (whaling after all) as opposed to being strictly about a justice movement

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