Current Dakota Access Pipeline Route Has 33 Fewer Water Crossings


"Water protectors" complete a two-day canoe trip north of Cannon Ball, N.D., where Dakota Access Pipeline opponents are camping. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

Back in mid-August reporter Amy Dalrymple wrote that the Dakota Access Pipeline had at one time considered a route which would have crossed the Missouri River upstream from Bismarck.

This has since become a frequent talking point for the protesters trying to block the pipeline. They argue that the pipeline company moved the route because they didn’t want to risk a mostly white community’s water but were ok with risking a Native American community’s water.

This talking point which ignores the fact that the pipeline also crosses the Missouri upstream communities like Williston, but whatever. The protesters demand to know why the route was changed.

In truth there is probably no single reason why the more southerly route which runs near (but not on) the Standing Rock reservation was chosen. Maybe the route they chose was cheaper in terms of obtaining easements. I’m certain the fact that the chosen route follows the corridor of existing infrastructure – like the Northern Border pipeline and power transmission lines – was appealing as well.

And then there’s this from the US Army Corps. Of Engineers’Environmental Assessment of the Dakota Access line: The route ultimately chosen has 33 fewer water crossings than the route running north of Bismarck.

ACOE table

Also, you’ll note from this table (on page 20 of the PDF embedded below), that the chosen route meant the pipeline could be co-located with existing pipeline for an additional 34.6 miles and existing power lines for an additional 3.2 miles.

It also reduced the amount of “greenfield” land (areas undisturbed by previous development) by over 48 miles, and reduced the total length of the pipeline by 10 miles.

So when people ask why the route near the Standing Rock reservation was chosen over the route north of Bismarck, these are the reasons.

They seem like pretty good reasons to me.

Here’s the full report:

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