Wisconsin Public Radio’s John Munson interviewed Barry Rabe for "A look at the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline," about the controversy over the multi-state Dakota Access Oil Pipeline on September 6. Rabe provided extensive background information and answered questions from callers during the segment.
The proposed pipeline, stretching from North Dakota to Illinois, raises concerns about environmental safety as well as disruption of Native American ancestral lands. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has been holding protests and requesting an injunction to halt the project, claiming they were not adequately consulted before construction began. “The biggest concern of course, across the length of the pipeline, is the possibility of a spill,” Rabe says, but the tribe is raising a number of other environmental issues, as well.
Rabe notes that while devastating spills are a real risk of pipelines, the alternatives (such as railroad transport) are often equally or more dangerous. He adds that safer actions, such as building a refinery closer to the drilling site, are often politically or economically unfeasible.
As the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protests gain more support from national groups, Rabe predicts the issue will become more prominent in state and national politics.
A judge is expected to rule on the injunction tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, Rabe concludes, “I would not expect this to be the final decision . . . whatever is decided is going to be challenged immediately.”
Barry G. Rabe is the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Professor of Public Policy at the Ford School. He also holds appointments in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and the Program in the Environment. Rabe serves as director of the Ford School’s Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP) and its Energy and Environmental Policy Initiative.