Arkansas Pipeline Sparks Fayetteville Protest

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Pipeline Protest

Protesters against the Diamond Pipeline gathered on Garland Avenue over Interstate 49 on Nov. 30. The pipeline will cut across the entire state of Arkansas.

 

 

The Diamond Pipeline, which is set to be completely constructed in 2017, has been met with opposition from various protest groups and individual citizens.

There is a protest against the pipeline set to take place Dec. 10, an Arkansas Water Guardian representative said.  There was also a protest against the pipeline that took place Nov. 30 on the Garland Avenue bridge and one in Pope County that took place Oct. 15.

The Diamond Pipeline is an oil pipeline that will pump crude oil running approximately 440 miles from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Diamond Pipeline website. It is being built by Plains All American Pipeline and the Valero Energy Corporation, both of which are based in Texas, according to the Diamond Pipeline Website.

The pipeline cost approximately $900 million, according to the Diamond Pipeline website. The pipeline is set to bring 15 permanent jobs along the pipeline route once it is finished and bring approximately $11 million worth in property tax revenue yearly to support the communities that live along the pipeline route, according to the Diamond Pipeline website.

Those participating in the rally set for Dec. 10 plan to meet at the Walton Arts Center parking lot at noon, said Jessica Brown, an Arkansas Water Guardians representative.

“This march is really going to bring awareness to people in Northwest Arkansas,” Brown said.

For senior and protester Aaron Blake, the economic prosperity associated with the pipeline is not worth the possible negative consequences to the environment, Blake said.

The Diamond Pipeline is planned to exceed the U.S. Department of Transportation safety pipeline standards, according to the Diamond Pipeline website. Pipelines are known to emit greenhouse gases, such as the Keystone Pipeline, according to the Climate Central website.

“Any possible economic boom that is attached to this, I would take with a grain of salt,” Blake said. “Oil is about money. It’s degrading to the environment, and we are up against a big beast right now.”

In May 2016, Plains All American Pipeline had been indicted for up to 46 criminal counts, according to Associated Press. Four of these were felonies for polluting state waters, and three dozen were misdemeanors for harming wildlife, according to AP .

For senior Kamryn Baker, this pipeline is a threat to the environment in Arkansas and does not reflect the Natural State reputation Arkansas has.

“Being an education major and one who would love to be an environmental educator in a national park some day, I feel it is important to educate the public on the threats of this pipeline to our water sources and forest areas,” Baker said. “We, as American and Arkansas citizens, should be pushing for energy sources that will progress us as a nation and as a state. If we are to construct another pipeline, we should be learning from our past, like the 2013 ExxonMobil spill that took place in Arkansas and requiring the Plains All American Pipeline company to follow every safety protocol with no exceptions.”

ExxonMobil was the company that owned the pipeline that was responsible for the oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas in March of 2013, according to AP.

 

In an effort to spread awareness, Baker has created an online petition through Change.org, that has gained over 26,500 signatures as of Dec. 6. Each time the petition is signed, an email is sent to the Army Corps of Engineers, Asa Hutchinson, Tom Cotton and John Boozman, Baker said. Baker has personally contacted the Arkansas senators and governor in order to express her concerns, Baker said.

Baker said she thinks the pipeline will be built, but that does not mean people should continue to allow large oil companies and politicians in the U.S. to determine what they can and cannot do to the environment.

“We should be proactive instead of inactive,” Baker said.

For master’s student Emily Cruz, the possible negative effects to the environment is why she is against the Diamond Pipeline.

“If you care about anything in this world, care about the environment,” Cruz said. “These protests are about pressuring our government to find a clean energy source that will be used on a wide scale instead of using oil. It is inevitable that this pipeline is going to bust based on all the earthquakes and aftershocks in Oklahoma and Arkansas. It affects us all.”

For Amanda Kennedy, an active member of the Arkansas Water Guardians, the possible risk of oil spills polluting the drinking water is the biggest concern. The pipeline will cut through several waterways, according to the posted route.

“No matter what, oil pipelines all eventually leak or fail and a slow leak is not easily detected either,” Kennedy said. “No matter where that leak occurs along the pipeline that goes through Arkansas, it will be devastating on the environment and for the communities in that area. There is no place that a spill would not negatively affect Arkansas. We have to stop contaminating our drinking water or we will not survive.”

The Plains All American Pipeline was not available for a response.

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