Fact Check: Missouri River Crossing
There is a pipeline crossing Lake Oahe near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.
It stretches over a thousand miles from the high plains near the Canadian Border to Illinois and Indiana where the products it carries can be distributed for consumption throughout a resource-thirsty Midwest. Do you think you can guess what we’re referring to?
If you think we’re referring to the Dakota Access Pipeline, unfortunately you are incorrect.
We’re talking about the Northern Border Pipeline. Built in 1983 Northern Border is a high pressure natural gas line that transports over 2 million cubic feet of day of natural gas, right underneath Lake Oahe in North Dakota. According to the pipeline’s owner, TCPipelines LP:
“Northern Border Pipeline is a 1,408-mile interstate natural gas pipeline system with a design capacity of approximately 2,400 million cubic feet per day (MMcf/d). The pipeline system extends from the Montana-Saskatchewan border near Port of Morgan, Montana, to a terminus near North Hayden, Indiana. Northern Border is a key link in the transportation of natural gas supply from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to a growing U.S. Midwest market. Northern Border also transports natural gas produced in the Williston Basin of Montana and North Dakota, and the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana as well as synthetic gas produced at the Dakota Gasification plant in North Dakota. The Northern Border Pipeline Company is a general partnership owned 50 percent by TC PipeLines, LP and 50 percent by ONEOK Partners, LP. It is operated by a subsidiary of TransCanada Corporation.”
In fact, you can even see where the pipeline crosses the Missouri River in both Morton County and Emmons County North Dakota! Just up Highway 1806 from where the protest is taking place.
It’s not the first pipeline to cross the Missouri River, far from it in fact. But what’s notable about the Northern Border pipeline is that it parallels the site where the Dakota Access Pipeline will cross the Missouri River at Lake Oahe, precisely the same spot where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is now attempting to “protect the water.”
You can now see the folly in the many arguments that seem to shift daily among members of the pipeline protesters.
- If the aim was to defend the water on the Missouri, or ambiguous “Tribal Lands” from the incursions of pipeline corporations, the war was lost back in 1983 with the construction of another pipeline. It should also be noted that neither Northern Border, nor Dakota Access will cross into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation.
- Northern Border Pipeline received approval and permitting to construct while successfully mitigating or avoiding impacts on sites of tribal heritage, just as Dakota Access has done.
- With the easements in parallel, cultural sites are well documented already and avoided by Dakota Access.
With a pipeline already crossing the Missouri north of Cannon Ball, Dakota Access is making the prudent decision to mitigate impact, and utilize existing cultural resource knowledge, in conjunction with multiple consultations directly with Native American tribes and nations and through the federal government.
There can be no argument that a pipeline would ultimately do irreparable harm to the Missouri River, or to cultural sites in Morton County, because a pipeline already exists in those locations.