Personal Injury Risks Push Officials To Find A More Suitable Route For Oil Pipeline

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Alaska oil pipeline

Whether you are for or against the Trump Administration’s promise to increase energy resources, it is hard to argue that they haven’t taken action to increase the production of natural resources across the US. After finally passing the pipeline that was blocked by the Obama Administration for nearly a decade, it isn’t going to be smooth sailing going forward for oil workers or the oil industry.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won a battle in court at the beginning of this year that sought to block a pipeline built near their reservation. The reason for the diversion was that the Army disallowed the pipeline to be drilled on a section of the Missouri River that is dammed.

The Army began looking for alternative routes for the pipeline that, to date, has cost more than 3.7 billion dollars for the Dakota access. The construction plans that had the pipeline running right through the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation have continued to be a point of major contention since their proposal. The site of the pipeline would leave many on the reservations displaced and thousands of Sioux people with nowhere to relocate their camps. That would lead to a personal injury lawsuit against the construction of the pipeline.

The only way to address the situation, according to Jo-Ellen Darcy, who was the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works, is to find an alternative route for the pipeline. However, that could lead to a hold up that costs millions and puts millions who are currently working on the pipeline at a standstill. It is estimated that rerouting the pipeline could lead to halting construction for anywhere from months to years.

President Trump tried to overturn the provision for relocation initiated by the Obama Administration, believing that it was more important to complete the nearly two thousand mile pipeline that spans four states. Proclaiming that it is for the greater good, President Trump tried to push through the plans to reroute and stay the course through the reservation.

The Army’s decision through the Obama Administration was to have an environmental study initiated to find an alternative route that would be more “environmentally friendly.” Whether Trump will go with the measure to relocate the pipeline through commissioning an environmental investigation or not is anyone’s guess. His administration has failed to comment.

A sticking point is that Trump’s holdings own stock in the building of the pipeline, which may cause a conflict of interest. His involvement with the Energy Transfer Partners alignment, he maintains, has nothing to do with whatever the Administration intends to do or not do regarding the rerouting alternatives.

Energy Transfer Partners, however, has maintained that they are unwilling to reroute the pipeline, which seeks to transport over 550,000 barrels a day of oil to supply from North Dakota all the way to Illinois. Protesters from Greenpeace are very happy with the court’s decision to disallow the pipeline to destroy the reservation land, while those who want progress and energy to flow, as well as jobs, believe that it is a poor decision.

A spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, which is a pro-infrastructure group, has condemned the decision as being nothing more than politically motivated and in no way good for the common welfare of those people that the oil piping would service. Not based on any real rule of law, they maintain, it was a decision guided by politics and should not stand.

According to an oil field injury attorney, the legal challenges to the pipeline were made on the demonstration that the tribe was not only not consulted about the pipeline or the problems that it might create for the reservation, but that it would severely negatively impact their quality of life. If the pipeline were to run under the Missouri River reservoir, it would jeopardize the water source that is primary to the reservation. If the water is contaminated by oil, that could lead to a personal injury lawsuit. It was also argued that the construction itself would disrupt the sacred sites that rest near the lake, which would be violating tribal treaty rights.

The fight continues to wage over the legalities of the pipeline and its route through the reservation. As of April, the US Army Corps of Engineers maintained that there are no such historical properties that would be affected by the routing of the pipeline as was previously argued. There are no recorded cultural sites anywhere along the pipeline according to the Army, and the construction would not pose a threat to any drinking water.

Likely, the battle will wage on for quite a while between the Trump Administration and environmental groups. In the meantime, the government is shelling out millions for a project that is at a standstill until the legalities can be ruled on. A matter of personal injury and tribal treaties, there are many hurdles in sorting through it all.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.