A common misconception about Dakota Access is that officials chose to “re-route” the pipeline closer to the Standing Rock Sioux reservation and away from Bismarck. While many have been touting this as a reason to stop the project, the facts are clear – this was not the case. The Bismarck Mayor recently held a press conference to dispel any further rumors on the issue.
As Standing Rock Fact Checker has previously highlighted, the current route was always the preferred route. The alternative route would have crossed 27 more waterways, more agricultural land and would have been significantly longer. It is hypocritical to champion concerns about water security and not acknowledge the stark fact that the Bismarck route presents a larger risk to more bodies of water.
Snopes recently examined the claim and drew similar conclusions. According to their analysis, “’Mostly white’ residents of Bismarck did not refuse to accept the threat to their water supply, and the project was not subsequently forced upon tribes at Standing Rock because white people rejected the risk.”
Snopes highlights that critics selectively pulled their facts and overlooked certain nuances about the routing process. According to the Bismarck Tribune article where critics cite their evidence:
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the Bismarck route and concluded it was not a viable option for many reasons. One reason mentioned in the agency’s environmental assessment is the proximity to wellhead source water protection areas that are avoided to protect municipal water supply wells.
In addition, the Bismarck route would have been 11 miles longer with more road crossings and waterbody and wetland crossings. It also would have been difficult to stay 500 or more feet away from homes, as required by the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the corps states.
The Bismarck route also would have crossed an area considered by federal pipeline regulators as a “high consequence area,” which is an area determined to have the most significant adverse consequences in the event of a pipeline spill.”
As evidenced, the route decision was based on science and facts, nothing more.