Irony: New Standing Rock Water Intake Will Be Next to Rail Crossing Used to Transport Oil


Protest organizer Kristen Kelsch hold a sign and chants across the street from the State Capitol in Bismarck on Thursday. A line of police prevented Kelsch and others from hold the protest to the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Capitol grounds

“Water is life.”

That’s a chant you’ll hear often from the protesters opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. They point out that the pipeline would cross just a little ways up the Missouri River/Lake Oahe reservoir from a drinking water intake used to service the Standing Rock tribe.

Only, as I was the first to report, that water intake is actually being moved some 70 miles south from Fort Yates, North Dakota, to Mobridge, South Dakota. The Bureau of Land Management told me they expect the Fort Yates intake to be closed by the end of the year. So not only is the Dakota Access Pipeline being built dozens of feet under the bed of the reservoir/river just like the tens of thousands of other pipeline water crossings in this country, but it’s not anywhere near the new intake.

But you know what is near the new water intake? A rail crossing where oil-by-rail shipments cross the river. Here’s a map from the folks at Standing Rock Fact Checker (a blog started by the MAIN Coalition which supports the construction of the pipeline):


“As the map below illustrates, the water intake plant is being moved away from a state-of-the-art, underground pipeline and placed just 1.6 miles away from a rail line that has existing shipments of crude oil by train,” the folks at SR Fact Checker write. “Crude shipments by rail are less safe than crude transported by pipeline.  A study by the Manhattan Institute concluded that, by comparison to other forms of transportation, moving energy products is safer by pipeline than any other means of transportation.  The existing railroad carries roughly 300,000 barrels of oil per day.”

If the Dakota Access Pipeline is built it will mean hundreds of thousands of barrels per day of oil taken off the rails. If it’s not built, that oil will get pumped anyway, only it will be shipped by less optimal means like rail. Including a rail crossing right above Standing Rock’s water intake.

Maybe the best way to protect Standing Rock’s water is to, you know, build the pipeline.