Access Denied

Access Denied

Maya Radcliffe (12th), Reporter

It is a brainless thing we do, an expectation rather than an uncertainty, that we can turn on our faucets, fill our glasses, and drink. Millions of people have never even tasted clean water, but for citizens of the United States, gaining access to pure drinking water is not a problem. Or, at least, it should not be.

Recent events have begun to drastically reshape our philosophy, and clean water is no longer a luxury that is handed to us, but a necessity of survival that must be fought for.

In 2014, over one-hundred-thousand residents of Flint, Michigan were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead in the drinking water due to poor water treatment. To this day, the people must still use only bottled or filtered water for bathing and drinking.

Through the Halliburton loophole, hydraulic fracking operations are exempt from the regulations set forth by the Safe Drinking Water Act. There have been thousands of reports of water contamination in individuals’ homes.

As you drive down the country roads of my town, signs read “Worth Your Fight,” in a campaign opposing the Bay-Delta Plan, which would take groundwater from the Central Valley (where it is needed for agriculture) and transport it to the bay.

A different fight has been taking place in North Dakota for nearly a year. “Water protectors” from all over the nation, including thousands of veterans, have joined with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The pipeline itself is one-thousand one-hundred and seventy-two miles long, stretching from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois. Upon its completion, it will transport nearly five-hundred-thousand barrels of crude oil daily. Although construction was halted during the Obama administration, President Trump signed the permits in January needed to continue work on both the Keystone and Dakota pipelines.

Two-hundred Native American tribes have pledged to oppose the project, claiming that the pipeline infringes upon Standing Rock Sioux territory, and poses a threat to the tribe’s water supply. The DAPL has been legally declared safe with 24-hour surveillance, however, the original plans to have the pipeline cut through North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck, were discarded due to concerns over the possibility of contaminating the city’s water.

Protesters have set up camps around construction sites, the largest of which, the Oceti Sakowin camp, has been evacuated this past Wednesday. Located near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, outside of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, the camp, as it was situated on federal ground, was issued a deadline by the US Army Corp of Engineers to evacuate by February 22, 2017 at 2:00 pm.

Although most campers left peacefully when law enforcement arrived in full riot gear at the set time, some of those that remained behind set fire to remaining tents and structures. So far, around ten arrests have been made on those refusing to comply.

Only one major part of the pipeline, under the Missouri River Reservoir, is unfinished.

Protests will undoubtedly continue, but I think we can conclusively say that the Dakota Access Pipeline will be completed regardless. We can only hope it does not become the environmental disaster everyone fears.