Dakota Access Pipeline: The Political Bias about the Protests

Dakota Access Pipeline: Political Bias and Protests

Written By: Shae Dunkum

Edited by: Ian Peaslee and Brynna Gyurisco


ZZZ-rob_protect_water_banner_oct23     The Dakota Access Pipeline is an underground oil pipeline that stretches for 1,172 miles. It begins in North Dakota in the Bakken shale oil fields and stretches through South Dakota and Iowa to end up at the oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline is supposed to carry between 470,00 and 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The pipeline has become a controversial topic regarding its impact on the environment. Many Native American tribes, including the Meskwaki and several Sioux tribal nations, have opposed the pipeline and its construction. They are under the assertion that the pipeline would not only threaten sacred burial grounds but also the quality of the water in nearby areas. The first protest started at the pipeline site in North Dakota, near Standing Rock Indian Reservation.


Some of the main concerns about this pipeline’s construction include health of the people, conservation of the environment, disturbance of land, eminent domain, tribal opposition, archaeological surveys, and political ties to the pipeline. While the Dakota Access Pipeline will help the economy and possibly create thousands of jobs, it also threatens the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and many others that draw from the Missouri and Mississippi rivers . Although there are other environmental concerns, the main concern that will be focused on in this essay is the political ties that it holds. President Donald Trump holds stock in Energy Transfer Partners, which is a company that partners with the Dakota Access Pipeline. This can create a conflict of interest when making presidential decisions affecting the pipeline project. Trump was also indirectly linked to the project because Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, contributed to the Trump campaign. Trump has said that he supports the completion of the pipeline project, and according to his transition team this position “has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.” According to Oliver Milman, who writes for The Guardian, “Trump has signaled his opposition to any restriction on the development of oil, coal, or gas” even when it is environmentally affecting native tribes and the surrounding water sources. The Guardian has a left-leaning viewpoint. This is known because they are associated with supporting the views of the Democratic party and other political parties on the more liberal side. The phrasing of Milman’s article puts out a bias against Trump and his viewpoint on this issue.


“Dakota Access pipeline company and Donald Trump have close financial ties”
By: Oliver Milman writing for The Guardian 


In contrast to The Guardian, the article “Dakota Access Pipeline protesters left ‘sensitive wildlife habitat’ trashed and destroyed,” from The Blaze, has a more conservative and Republican-like view on this issue. This article outlines the protesters, or “Water Protectors,” completely trashing and destroying the land they had been living on while protesting. This site’s view on the issue at hand is completely opposite of The Guardian’s view. While The Guardian holds a stand against Trump and the construction of the pipeline, The Blaze holds a stand against the protesters. Brandon Morse, the author of this article, reports that “the protesters—who had shown up to protect the land—had destroyed the land they lived on, leaving behind mountains of trash and human waste. Furthermore, it was reported that the protesters camp was situated on a ‘sensitive wildlife habitat.” This statement takes the side against the protesters and leans more towards Trump’s viewpoint.



Joshua Gillin wrote an article on Polifact.com titled “Trump ‘caught investing’ in Dakota Access Pipeline before approving it, website says.” In this article, Gillin refers back to a left-leaning blog that “asserts that President Donald Trump was busted for approving the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline for financial gain.” This article then continues to say that this blog regularly posts items lambasting Trump and his policies, which then makes the reader become unsure if this is the truth or not. This article then continues on and to say “In any event, the headline suggests that Trump dumped a bunch of money into the pipeline and then approved its construction, ostensibly to make a big profit from it. The timeline doesn’t add up.” Gillin wrote this article to support Trump and to bust the left-leaning blog for being false. This article starts off like The Guardian but then leans more to being like The Blaze in a political standpoint.


Image result for dakota access pipeline

The New York Times tries to remain neutral with their articles. In the article, “North Dakota Oil Pipeline Battle: Who’s Fighting and Why,” written by Jack Healy, the job of explaining the issue without being biased is done well. One of the sections is titled “What does each side want?” in which they go into explaining the beliefs of both sides and some pros and cons of each. No matter what side the author presents while writing about this issue, he immediately counteracts it with the other side’s opinion. An example of this occurs in the “How safe are pipelines?” section. Here Healy says “Pipeline companies say it is far safer to move oil in an underground pipe than in rail cars or trucks, which can crash and create huge fires. But pipeline spills and ruptures occur regularly.” He then continues to expand on both sides of this matter. This article definitely stays in the middle of the political spectrum and has a very unbiased point of view, showing that it is just here as an informant.


Image result for dakota access pipeline

Unlike The New York TimesThe Daily Caller does not remain in a neutral state. They are more likely to have very conservative views in their articles. In the article titled “Obama Admin. Blocks Dakota Access Pipeline Months After Approving It,” which is written by Michael Bastasch, even the title presents a strong bias against the Democratic view on this issue. Throughout this whole piece, loaded language is used to contrast against other articles, like the one titled “Tribes and Lawyers are Vowing to Fight Trump’s Pipelines,” which was written by Nidhi Subbaraman on BuzzFeed News. These news sites are on complete opposite sides of the political spectrum and therefore they are easy to contrast. Even just reading the titles of the articles infers that they do not have any similar viewpoints on matters regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. The way certain words are used and how sentences are phrased creates a bias that is hard to miss.



Image result for dakota access pipeline

Through comparing and contrasting these different media sites and their viewpoints on the Dakota Access Pipeline, it has been shown that bias is prevalent in most of these news articles. The New York Times was a very neutral source and was used as a base for the other articles presented. These articles ranged from far-left views to far-right views. Determining where on the spectrum they fell was all based on how the author worded the article. All sides of this issue were seen through these articles.


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