What kind of infrastructure should we be building today?

Standing in Solidarity Against New Pipelines
By Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director
September 28, 2016

Dozens of Native American tribes and allies have joined the Standing Rock Sioux to take a stand against the construction of a massive oil pipeline that would ship Bakken oil from North Dakota to Illinois.  We have this in common with Standing Rock: both of our communities are threatened by Bakken oil. Tesoro wants to build the nation’s largest oil shipping terminal in Vancouver, Washington. Five trains of explosive Bakken oil would roll through our towns every single day. The Standing Rock Sioux and neighbors are threatened by the 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which would destroy important cultural sites and threaten the Missouri River, which provides drinking water and irrigation for millions of people.

When Riverkeeper asked people to contribute camping gear to the effort at Standing Rock, several people asked me: Aren’t oil pipelines better than oil trains? The answer is a resounding no! We don’t need either.

The Dakota Access pipeline will carry the same Bakken crude that we are fighting at the Tesoro Savage terminal in Vancouver. We stand in solidarity with our allies at Standing Rock working to protect their land and water for oil spills and explosions. The thing about the oil terminal in Vancouver and the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock is that they are new. This is obvious, but important.

We currently have adequate pipeline capacity to meet our current oil and gas needs, so we don't need to debate whether trains or pipelines are best. The Dakota Access and Tesoro projects are about bringing more fossil fuels. And we just don't need more. We are rapidly growing in efficiency, renewable energy, and cleaner transportation options (e.g. electric vehicles charged by renewables).

Sure, we will continue to use some fossil fuels but our investment should be in efficiency and clean energy. If we build a massive new pipeline like Dakota Access or a massive oil-by-rail terminal, we are locked in to using that infrastructure for the next 30 to 50 years. Just think what our energy and transportation options could look like in 30 years if we don't lock ourselves into oil!

To me, the real question is what kind of infrastructure should we be building today – projects that lock us into more fossil fuels or projects that promote clean energy?

TAKE ACTION: Contact President Obama today (call: 202-456-1111, send a message: whitehouse.gov/contact) and tell him 17 million people are at risk of losing their clean water. Ask him to:

  1. Conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS);
  2. Deny all permits for the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Contacted POTUS? Now share this post!