News Local/State

Urbana City Council Passes Resolution Opposing Dakota Access Pipeline

View of the Dakota Access Pipeline being installed near New Salem, North Dakota.

The Dakota Access Pipeline being installed between farms, as seen from 50th Avenue in New Salem, North Dakota. Tony Webster / Flickr

A resolution opposing the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project passed the Urbana City Council Monday night on a unanimous voice vote.

The pipeline would transport oil from North Dakota to Illinois, although orders from three federal agencies have temporarily halted its construction. The resolution cites the potential environmental risk of oil spills from the pipeline, and the damage already caused to sacred spaces during construction --- according to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Ward 4 Alderman Bill Brown says he believes the world will need fossil fuels such as oil for some time to come. But he said he couldn’t ignore the pipeline’s dangers --- danger the pipeline poses to the environment and to Native American cultural sites.

 “There’s no easy solution from an energy perspective, but certainly, in this instance, from a cultural perspective and the way the people were treated, I think this is the right thing to do,” said Brown.

The only opposition came from the lone Republican on the Council. Ward 6 Alderman Michael P. Madigan said he had empathy for the Standing Rock Sioux and their concerns. But he says the oil intended for the pipeline would be extracted and transported with or without it --- and that the pipeline provided the safest means.

“It is the way that the oil can be moved with the least amount of detriment to the environment,” said Madigan “And if somebody would rather have it moved by semi or train, I would ask you, are you not for reducing the carbon footprint?”

Despite his criticisms, Madigan did not oppose the resolution in Monday night’s voice vote.  

The measure asks the president to review the pipeline’s construction permit and to make sure federal requirements for pipeline construction consider the impact on water, global warming and the impact on tribal nations.

Members of the public had called on the Urbana City Council to pass the resolution. Several of them voiced their support during the public comment section of Monday’s city council meeting, just as they had during an earlier committee-of-the-whole meeting.