A Tale of Two Pipelines

"A Tale of Two Pipelines"
Trans-Alaska Pipeline System - TAPS
and the Dakota Access Pipeline - DAPL 

    A “Tale of Two Pipelines” metaphor presents a synopsis of similarities and differences in two cases of resource mobilization. The first presents the strategies that Native Americans used to mobilize resources and support against the building of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline in the 1960s.
    The second presents the organizing strategies to block the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline—nearly sixty years later—in the 21st Century.  Their organizing efforts for the latter reached unprecedented heights in the U.S.A. and around the globe, due to innovations in technology, online social media, and other disruptive technologies.
    Native Americans believe the natural elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water to be sacred. They share similarities in folklore for instance through narratives of an abundant land to harvest, to gather food and fish, and to hunt moose, caribou, deer and buffalo which traditional lifestyles continue today as they have for 10,000 years. 


    Their heritage and spiritual beliefs lasted for centuries before the coming of Europeans. However, by the mid-1800s, their isolation from rest of the world became a thing of the past. With the arrival of newer generations of colonial-European descendants, they presented new threats by a highly organized and militarized U.S. Government. They sought an inherited right to pursue their “manifest destiny”—even at all costs. They would unify a new nation to include all the lands west of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
    Consequences resulted in a tumultuous relationship with Native Americans replete with broken treaties, agony, victory, defeat, and a trail of tears and death!  One-hundred-years afterward, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.    In 1876 the U.S. Calvary won a total victory over the Great Plains’ American Indians.  Federal legislative acts and administrative policies’ now mandate the fate of the vanquished—from Alaska to the Mexican border.
    The first half of the 1800s witnessed a proliferation of government reservations as a way of acculturating them to accept European-American society, to assimilate to their way of life, and to allow the U.S. government to control and determine the land use and its economic value.

"The controversy continues" 


    In the 1960s, Alaska Natives gathered to establish the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) and other groups to lobby and fight for their land claims.  Although there were ongoing disputes over U.S. government policies since 1867, they modestly went unnoticed by the world stage players. However, this would all change due to three unprecedented events.
    The first one ignited after verification of the existence of vast oil reserves in Prudhoe Bay (Northern Alaska), and feasible options to retrieve it. The second concerned an announcement by a coalition of oil companies by the late 1960s through early 1970s.  They sought to harvest and transport the oil across the Alaskan wilderness; even though uncertain about how to do it?      They settled on building a pipeline that would travel the length of the state, from the Arctic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Their decision fueled Native American resistance first over unresolved land claims; and second, over newer threats to the land and water. However, this time their advocacy coincided with a novel initiative of other grassroots’ organizers intent on protecting the environment.  The Earth Movement of the 1970s finally had arrived.  Together, their collective advocacy changed the course of how we address concerns over the environment.
    Thus, the rise of a global environmental movement commonly referred to as Green Peace continues in the 21st Century. Newer events and the need to protect Native American land and water now involve the descendants of the Great Sioux, other diverse multicultural Native Americans, laymen and wealthy U.S. citizens, and the rest of the world! 

21st Century Native American Issues

    On June 25, 2014, in a joint venture with Energy Transfer Partners LP, Dakota Access, LLC, applies to build a 1,172 - mile pipeline. A subsidiary of Bakken Holdings Company, LLC in a joint venture of applies to build a 1,172-mile pipeline spanning four states (from North Dakota to Iowa). The goal was to carry 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day at a cost $3.78 billion.  Scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, the expected public benefits include 8,000-12,000 jobs during construction, increased demand for steel pipe, fittings, valves, and pumps. millions in state and local revenue during the construction phase, 4 $156 million dollars in sales and income taxes; and $55 million annually in property taxes to ND SD IA and IL. 
    By September 30th, 2014 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officials met with representatives of the Energy Transfer Partners and objections to the pipeline immediately began.  Permanent home to the Dakota and Lakota people of the Standing Rock Sioux, their disapproval concerned the potential of oil spills into Lake Oahe (oh-WAH'—hee), the 4th largest reservoir in the U.S.; e.g., approximately 231 miles wide with a shoreline length of 2,250 miles.  The protection of wildlife also raised concerned.
    Lake Oahe diverse fish species include walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, and smallmouth bass. Also, a limited amount of the Chinook Salmon, native to the Pacific Northwest, can be found although artificially maintained.
    Lake Oahe begins just north of Pierre, South Dakota and extends nearly north to Bismarck, North Dakota; and to Mobridge, South Dakota on the eastern shore of the central portion of the lake.


    Since time immemorial, each succeeding generation of Native Americans inherited a culture that communicated the natural elements of Earth, Air, and Water are sacred.  For a 21st Century impartment, "Water is life," became the new rallying chant against the giant oil companies.   It reflects a similar theme song used by marching protesters for civil rights of the 1950s, i.e., "We Shall Overcome…Some Day," as contemporary Native Americans adopted a Lakota anthem.  
    Marching side-by-side a diversity of multicultural race and ethnic groups, demonstrators’ song and chanted the Lakota “Mní wichóni,” or “Water is life!” And within minutes it became the phase of resistance adopted by the global community. 
    It was the chanting heard around the world on 10 March 2016 as 5,000 demonstrators marched on our nation’s capital—Washington, D.C., the artery of national public policy makings.  They marched and chanted down Pennsylvania Avenue and the streets of other cities. 
    They achieved their goal and brought to the world renewed interest to protect Native American human rights, to ensure they receive equal justice under the law and keep the rights to their land.    


"The Dakota Access Pipeline Day of Action"

    The real extent of the type of strategies used by descendants of the Great Sioux Nation today exceed the page limits of this story.  However, unlike the tools that were used by their ancestors to alert the community of a clear and present danger, i.e., smoke signals, drum beats, messages carried by horseback riders, etc., the tools they use today reach wider communities.  For example, their protests fought in cyberspace brought overnight results. 
     Twenty-First Century on-line social media tools took the Native American calls from coast to coast to the global community, and to the United Nations. Unlike the tools used by their ancestors to alert communities of a clear and present danger, i.e., smoke signals, drum beats, and messages carried by horseback riders, the tools now used would reach wider communities.  But even still, their efficient use of social media (e.g., Facebook Plugins, Tweeter, Instagram, YouTube, Wordpress, Pinterest; Reddit; StumbleUpon; RSS (Rich Site Summary); emails and Livestream podcasts) is a story to be continued.

    Native Americans, environmentalists, and concerned citizens organized non-violent protest marches from the east to west coast, north and south of the United States of America.  Social media became the tool of choice for keeping the public informed.


About environmental concerns at the Standing Rock Reservation, global environmental groups joined the protest.  For example, anti-fossil fuel “Oil and Gas 350.com” sent mass emails around the world.  In a very short time, their use of social media also proved extremely efficient and effective in mobilizing support for Standing Rock.  In reply, environmentalist groups—in thirty-five cities—around the world acknowledged dissent to the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline.▪

The TAPS and Dakota Access Pipeline story continues to unfold.

Timeline: Alaska Pipeline Chronology
From 1959 – 1972
January 3: Alaska becomes 49the State
October: Native leaders from across the state form Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN)
December: Interior Secretary Stewart Udall imposes a "land freeze" that halts federal government from giving away Alaska land titles as agreed under the Statehood Act.
March 13: Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) and Humble Oil and Refining Company (now Exxon Company, U.S.A.) announce the discovery of a massive oil field in Prudhoe Bay
Oct 28: ARCO joins up with Humble Oil and British Petroleum Oil to form the Trans Alaska Pipeline Systems (TAPS). They enter into an "agreement for a planning study and for engineering design and construction of the Trans-Alaska pipeline project."
November: Under direct orders from Governor Walter J. Hickel, Alaska's Department of Highways begins blazing a winter road just north of Fairbanks to Prudhoe Bay. The road will be abandoned one month after its completion in March 1969.
February 10: TAPS announces plans to build a hot oil pipeline from Prudhoe Bay in the Arctic Circle to Valdez on Alaska's south coast. The original plan is to bury the pipe the whole way.
June 6: TAPS files for federal right-of-way permits. Seventy-five percent of all land in Alaska is still federally owned.
September 10: The lease for 179 parcels of land covering 640 acres of state-owned land in and around Prudhoe Bay is put up on the auction block. Alaska's coffers become richer by $900 million.
September 13: In preparation for the pipeline, $100 million worth of 48-inch steel pipes arrives in Valdez from Japan. These pipes will lay rusting for more than five years before they are put to use.
March 5: Five native villages north of Fairbanks oppose the oil pipeline plan by filing suits against both the oil companies and the Department of Interior. In state court, the suit claims TAPS has failed to honor a previous agreement to hire Native contractors and laborers for the project. A second suit is filed against Walter J. Hickel, who is now President Richard Nixon's Interior Secretary, in federal district court. The suit demands the government forego any construction until Natives along the pipeline's route give consent.
March 26: Environmental groups including the Wilderness Society, Friends of the Earth, and the Environmental Defense Fund file their own suit, claiming the TAPS proposal violates both the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920, which restricts the right of way to 50 feet (TAPS needs 100 feet), and the newly passed National Environmental Policy Act, which requires the study of the environmental impacts of the proposed pipeline and alternative ways of getting the oil to market.

April 3: In federal district court Judge George L. Hart issues a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Department of the Interior from issuing a construction permit for a road that crosses native land near Stevens Village.
April 13: Judge George L. Hart issues a preliminary injunction against the entire pipeline project. It is the first major test of the National Environmental Policy Act. After just two months of legal maneuvering, TAPS is stopped dead in its tracks.
April 24: Secretary of the Interior Walter J. Hickel says he will issue a right-of-way permit for the construction of the pipeline when he can guarantee it will be built safely. Little does anyone realize that it will take more than three years to get authorization.
August 14: The owner oil companies create the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company to oversee the management and building of the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Alyeska's first task is to get the pipeline project going again.
December: Government geologists release a document titled "Some Estimates of the Thermal Effects of a Heated Pipeline in Permafrost," which explains the damaging effects a hot oil pipeline would create in permafrost. Critics of the pipeline use the document to support their case.
January 1: The Department of the Interior submits the first draft of an environmental impact statement. It is a scant 196 pages long, with an additional 60 pages of revised construction plans.
February: Public hearings are held in Washington, D.C., and Anchorage, Alaska, to discuss the environmental impact statement. By March, there will be more than 12,000 pages of testimony, the great majority of it critical of the pipeline.
December 18: President Richard Nixon signs into law the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. This new law gives Alaska Natives the right to select 44 million acres of land and a cash settlement of nearly $1 billion. Half of the money is to be paid from oil production royalties.
March 20: The Department of the Interior releases the final environmental impact statement. The original 256-page document has now ballooned to a nine-volume comprehensive study on both the environmental and economic impact the pipeline will have. The release is followed by a 45-day review period in which environmental groups go over the impact study before any decisions are made.
May 11: A new Interior Secretary, Rogers C. B. Morton, grants the right-of-way permits for the Trans-Alaska pipeline. He promises that construction will be strictly monitored to protect the Alaskan environment. The only thing standing in way of the pipeline is Judge Hart's preliminary injunctions.
August 15: Judge Hart calls the environmentalists back to court. He rules in favor of the defendants: the Department of the Interior, Alyeska and the state of Alaska. In Hart's opinion, the pro-pipeline coalition has now met all the legal requirements. The preliminary injunction is dissolved. The environmentalists appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.


Timeline: Alaska Pipeline Chronology
From 1973 – 2005

February 9: The appeals court partially overturns Judge Hart's ruling. The court says it has no jurisdiction over the right-of-way limits in the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920. Congress will have to grant authorization to allow a right of way more than fifty feet wide. Alyeska Pipeline Service Company's plan includes a 100-foot-wide right of way.
July 17: With a vote of 50 to 49, the Senate narrowly passes the Gravel Amendment which declares that the Department of the Interior has fulfilled all the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act, allowing Alyeska to move forward. Vice President Spiro Agnew casts the deciding vote.

October 6: On the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Egyptian forces attack Israel, while at the same time Syrian troops assault the Golan Heights in a surprise offensive. With help from the United States, Israel succeeds in reversing the Arab gains. The clash will have repercussions for the U.S. oil supply.
October 17: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) strikes back against the United States and the Netherlands for their support of Israel in the war. OPEC imposes an oil embargo. Overnight, the price of a barrel of oil rises from $3 to over $5. Gas at the pumps will soon rise from 30 cents per gallon to $1.20, and drivers will wait in long lines to fill up their tanks.
November 16: In direct response to the oil crisis, President Nixon signs the Trans Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act into law. Nixon introduces "Project Independence" in a televised speech: "Throughout history, America has made great sacrifices of blood and also treasure to achieve and maintain its independence. In the last third of this century, our independence will depend on maintaining and achieving self-sufficiency in energy."
December: The price of a barrel of oil rises to $11.65.
January 3: The Department of the Interior grants Alyeska a federal permit for right of way, allowing construction to start.
April 29: Construction begins on a haul road that will link the Yukon River to Prudhoe Bay. Truckers will use the road to transport goods to the North Slope as well as to camps along the way.
September 29: The haul road is finished. It is the first American highway to cross the Arctic Circle.
March 27: Construction begins on the Trans-Alaska pipeline. Workers bury the first section of pipe beneath the Tonsina River. The pipe floats back to the top and then is re-buried.
July: Alyeska suffers its first scandal. A subcontractor is found cutting corners by falsifying weld x-rays. Thirty thousand eight hundred welds are in question. The x-rays are used to inspect all of the girth welds around the pipe's circumference. It will take Alyeska a year to check all the x-rays and to repair the sub-par welds.
December 6: The last piece of pipe is laid down near Thompson Pass, where welders and laborers have had to scale near-vertical mountain walls to install pipe.
May 31: Welders complete the last of the 100,000 girth welds near Pump Station 3. The final price tag for the pipeline is over $8 billion dollars -- nearly nine times the original estimate. Much of the money has gone to building the pipeline to be environmentally safer than was originally planned.
June 20: The first oil flows from Pump Station 1 down the pipeline.
July 28: The first oil reaches the Valdez Marine Terminal.
August 1: The tanker ARCO Juneau departs Valdez with the first shipment of North Slope crude oil.
January 22: After 2-1/2 years of pipeline operations, the one-billionth barrel of oil arrives at the Valdez Marine Terminal.
December 2: President Jimmy Carter signs in to law the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The statute protects over 104 million acres of federal lands in Alaska, effectively doubling the size of the country's national park and refuge system.
March: Oil output peaks on the Trans-Alaska pipeline. For the entire month of March, the line transports 2.1 million barrels of oil a day. The amount of oil subsequently pumped out of the ground will decrease at a steady rate.
March 24: The tanker Exxon Valdez fails to steer back in to the shipping lane after trying to avoid an iceberg. Twenty five miles south of Valdez, the tanker runs aground on Bligh Reef, spilling over 11 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine waters of Prince William Sound. The spill threatens an abundance of wildlife: salmon, birds, whales, sea otters, and bald eagles. Exxon will spend more than $2.1 billion dollars over the next few years to clean up the mess.
March 5: The 10 billionth barrel of oil arrives in Valdez. In the late 1960s, geologists had estimated the North Slope would produce no more than that amount. They had underestimated.
May: The pipe transports less than one million barrels a day. Alyeska engineers think it will stay at this volume for the next 10 years.
June 20: Alyeska celebrates the 25th anniversary of pipeline operations.
November 3: A 7.9 magnitude earthquake rocks the pipeline where it intersects with the Denali Fault. Several vertical support members, the structures that hold the pipe above ground, are damaged, but the pipeline remains intact.
November 26: The State of Alaska renews the Trans-Alaska pipeline's right of way permit for another 30 years.
December: The 15 billionth barrel of oil leaves Prudhoe Bay.
Source: Timeline: The Alaska Pipeline An American Experience, PBS.org http://www.pbs.org/wgbh//amex/pipeline/map/index.html
Source: Map: The Trans-Alaska Pipeline's Route The Alaska Pipeline An American Experience, PBS.org http://www.pbs.org/wgbh//amex/pipeline/map/index.html