The Bakken pipeline in our neighborhood?


One of my neighbors has decided he doesn’t want Bakken crude flowing through his farm.

We have read recently that the Bakken pipeline, a project of Dakota Access, plans to build a pipeline across Iowa from the northwest to the southeast. Many of us are skeptical if not outright opposed to this pipeline crossing Iowa. One person who is doing something about his conviction is Ed Fallon. Ed is keeping an interesting daily blog as he walks the pipeline from southeast to northwest Iowa, “rolling the pipeline back up” as he walks.

The Meskwaki people have come out against the pipeline and the mainstream media, while not digging deep enough into the topic, is beginning to cover this challenge to agriculture and the environment in the Hawkeye State.

Not only is the Bakken pipeline through Iowa problematic (the reasons include destruction of farm drainage tile and the likelihood of leakage) the production of the oil itself is also problematic. There are two aspects to the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process (the process by which the oil is extracted from beneath the North Dakota plains), that deserve examination: first is the fracking sand industry, the second is the use of the water that is necessary for the fracking process, and a third that has to do with the way the business is being conducted on the Fort Berthold reservation.

Fracking sand is a necessary ingredient of the fracking process. A special kind of sand is required. Fracking sand mines in Trempeleau County, Wisconsin, for example, have turned the county up-side down.

A large amount of water is required for the fracking process but water is  required on both ends of the process. Water is necessary for the initial work to force the petroleum from the cracks in the underground rock and then the chemical-laden water, as a by-product of fracking, is returned underground. About 3 to 8 million gallons are used in the lifetime of one well.

Third, about 30% of the Bakken production comes from the Fort Berthold reservation where the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara native peoples live (they were moved to this land to make way for Lake Oahe on the Missouri River). The business of oil production has been rife with corruption and shenanigans on the reservation. For interesting background about the way that the Three Affiliated Tribes (Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara) have dealt with the oil boom on their land, read about Marilyn Hudson and her research.

After all is said and done, the “sweet” crude from Bakken is not so sweet; it seems more like a bitter harvest.


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