The Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Meskwaki Nation) has formally lodged its opposition to a 1,100-mile-long underground pipeline that would carry 570,000 barrels of Bakken crude daily across 343 miles of Iowa to Patoka, Illinois and from there to the Gulf Coast.
"As a people that have lived in North America for thousands of years, we have environmental concerns about the land and drinking water," tribal chairwoman Judith Bender wrote in a February 19 letter to the Iowa Utilities Board, according to the Desmoines Register. "As long as our environment was good we could live, regardless of who our neighbors were. Our main concern is Iowa's aquifers might be significantly damaged. And it will only take one mistake and life in Iowa will change for the next thousands of years. We think that should be protected, because it is the water that gives Iowa the best way of life."
Besides the water issue, the prospect of damage to sacred sites and wildlife habitat also concerns the 1,400-member Meskwaki Nation, the Desmoines Register reported. While the pipeline would not cross the Sac & Fox reservation directly, it would have an impact on traditional lands and put Native American graves at risk.
The pipeline proposal comes from Dakota Access, LLC, part of Energy Transfers, a company based in Dallas. Dakota Access first proposed the pipeline in July 2014, but the project has met with an enormous amount of resistance. Twenty other groups, including the Sierra Club, the Iowa Audubon Society, the League of Women Voters of Iowa and the Iowa Farmers Union also oppose the pipeline as part of a consortium, the Bakken Pipeline Resistance Coalition.
A company spokesperson told the DesMoines Register that Dakota Access would be sure to comply not only with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act but also with numerous environmental laws that it is subject to.