Energy experts are warning of the consequences of the Dakota access pipeline if the project goes ahead as planned.
The pipeline is slated to cross the Missouri River, a key source of drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people, and cross into North Dakota.
It’s slated to be completed by mid-2017.
“The threat of a pipeline spill on public lands is real,” said Kevin J. Williams, a water resources professor at Oregon State University.
“The potential for a spill is real.
The pipeline itself has already leaked more than a million gallons of methane, which is a powerful greenhouse gas, and there is already concern that the oil and gas that will be refined will be leaking and polluting the environment.
If that oil and oil and other energy is spilled, it could affect all of North Dakota.””
If the pipeline is allowed to proceed as planned, it would be the biggest water pollution in the United States for decades,” said Amy Binder, a fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, a think tank.
Binder also added that a spill would likely lead to a spike in greenhouse gas emissions.
The company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, has argued that the project would create jobs and boost the economy.
But Williams said he doesn’t think the jobs are the only reason why the project is going ahead.
“I think the most likely reason for the pipeline’s approval is because it would reduce the amount of oil in the pipeline and therefore the price of oil,” Williams said.
“If you look at the history of this country, oil prices have been low, so it’s not really a concern for most people.
And that’s why we’ve got all these pipelines now, to get oil from the ground up to refineries in the Gulf.”
According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run through the U.S. Midwest, will transport up to 890,000 barrels of oil per day.
The project has faced some opposition from environmental groups.
On Thursday, a group of about 300 activists took part in a protest in Sioux City, Iowa, where they were met with tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets.
Protesters also clashed with police and tried to block a bridge over the Missouri.
The protest comes after an explosion in southern California in late August that sent a pipe falling through a tree, and two explosions at a gas station in San Francisco in October that killed one person and injured at least 21.