Opposition over the Dakota Pipeline hit close to home for four El Pasoans, representing the Causa Unidos organization.
Earlier this month, Rosemary Martinez and three others journeyed to North Dakota to deliver medical supplies and lend their support to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to its construction.
“One of the main reasons we came up here (to Standing Rock) was to leave the staffs at the river here and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in North Dakota.”
Martinez arrived in Standing Rock, North Dakota on September 5, just after protests opposed the demolition by crews actions that resulted in the destruction of native burial grounds.
Martinez and the group also brought along more than 200 letters from Riverside and Del Valle High School students were delivered to officials protesting the pipeline at Standing Rock.
During Labor Day weekend, construction crews in North Dakota destroyed gravestones and sacred stone features according to the emergency injunction appeal the Sioux Tribe filed on September 12.
On September 16, the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an injunction and a halt in construction of the pipeline for 20 miles on both sides of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.
In a Facebook post, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe issued this statement:
“This is a temporary administrative injunction and is meant to maintain status quo while the court decides what to do with the Tribe’s motion. The Tribe appreciates this brief reprieve from pipeline construction and will continue to oppose this project, which will severely jeopardize its water and cultural resources. We will not rest until our lands, people, waters, and sacred sites are permanently protected from this destructive pipeline.”
Tez Soto, 18, of El Paso said he went to Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with those opposing the pipeline as well. Soto said he has friends and relatives in South and North Dakota.
Soto traveled with Martinez earlier this month.
“It’s a big deal to me,” Soto said. “I have a lot of friends and relatives that are on Facebook and I was keeping up with their posts. I’m here because water is life and the only thing keeping us alive.”
According to the Energy Transfer Company website and their January press release, the Dakota Pipeline, a $3.7 billion infrastructure project, will cross through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois and is expected to transport about 450,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Bakken and Three Forks in North Dakota to Patoka, Illinois.
“During construction, Dakota Access will pay substantial state sales taxes to North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Dakota Access also will pay significant property taxes to the four states once the pipeline is in service,” The release states. “Additionally, Dakota Access will employ up to 4,000 construction workers per state to build the 1,168 miles of 30-inch pipeline. One hundred percent of these workers will be union contractors with up to 50 percent sourced from local union halls. Dakota Access is projected to be in service by late 2016.”
In July the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock, North Dakota filed a lawsuit against Energy Transfer. The lawsuit details that the pipeline traverses through a site of “religious and cultural significance” to the Oceti Sakowin, in the pipeline’s route to Iowa.
The pipeline’s construction would also affect Lake Oahe, a primary source of drinking water for the tribes along the route. The pipeline would cross underneath the lake. In addition the pipeline would cross Lake Sakakawea.
“The current proposed route crosses Lake Oahe a half of a mile upstream of the Tribe’s reservation boundary, where any leak or spill from the pipeline would flow into the reservation,” The lawsuit states. “The Tribe and its members have been deeply concerned about the potential impacts of the Lake Oahe crossing since its inception, for two primary reasons. First, the Tribe relies on the waters of Lake Oahe for drinking water, irrigation, fishing, and recreation, and to carry out cultural and religious practices. The public water supply for the Tribe, which provides drinking water for thousands of people, is located a few miles downstream of the proposed pipeline crossing route. Additionally, the cultural and religious significance of these waters cannot be overstated. An oil spill from the pipeline into Lake Oahe would cause an economic, public health and welfare, and cultural crisis of the greatest magnitude.”
In response to the protests against the pipeline in North Dakota others have taken to raising their voices on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Facebook page to raise awareness about other pipelines in the works including the Diamond Pipeline
According to the company website, Diamond Pipeline LLC, the project is estimated to cost $900 million and will consist of 440 miles of a 20-inch pipeline that, if built, would transport 200,000 of sweet crude oil per day from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis Tennessee.
Construction is expected to be complete in 2017.
While the pipeline, the protests and the controversy may seem light-years away to most borderland residents, our region has a connection to the on-going situation in the Dakotas.
Close to home: Orogrande Basin drilling and the Trans-Pecos Pipeline
Energy Transfer, the same company that is currently in litigation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe of North Dakota is also looking at Texas for the construction of a pipeline that would cross through the Rio Grande and into Mexico.
The Trans Pecos Pipeline is currently under construction, said Vicki Granado, spokesperson for Energy Transfer in an email to the El Paso Herald Post.
For additional questions and information Granado referred the El Paso Herald Post.com to the Trans Pecos Pipeline website for details.
According to the website the Trans-Pecos Pipeline will transport 1.4 cubic feet of natural gas. The 148-mile pipeline will run from Waha Hub, outside of Fort Stockton, Texas and will conclude at the U.S.-Mexico Border, just south of Presidio, Texas.
The gas will then be delivered to Mexico and anticipated date of service, according to the website, is May of 2017.
The pipeline is to be 42-inches in diameter; and would be buried at a minimum of 48 feet; and perhaps deeper in some areas according to Energy Transfers.
According to Energy Transfers, the project:
“Will benefit air quality in the region by replacing Northern Mexico’s fuel source with clean-burning natural gas. Northern Mexico’s power generation plants currently produce harmful greenhouse gases from burning diesel, coal and wood.”
Torchlight Energy, the company leading the project, did not return messages for comment on Thursday; nor respond to an email sent via their website contact form on Friday.
However, according to Torchlight Energy Investor Presentation dated for August, in February 2016 Founders Oil and Gas approved initial plans to drill three wells in the Orogrande Prospect.
The timeline indicates that in April drilling commenced on a second well for the project; and in June a depth of 6,1052 feet was reached for the second well.
To read a previous story on the project, click HERE.