Woo-hoo! My author’s copies of The Dakota Access Pipeline arrived Thursday evening. The book came out in January so I’ve been popping out whenever I see the poor mail carrier. Honestly, I wonder if author’s houses aren’t marked on a map. “Beware! Will worry carrier for weeks at a time.”
This is one of the hardest single books that I’ve ever written. Not only does it include information about this specific pipeline, it also explains:
- Native American history especially in the plains including the killing off of the buffalo to solve the “Indian problem” and forcing the people onto reservations.
- How oil is drilled and transported using pipelines as well as potential safety issues.
- The process used to decide where something like a pipeline is laid.
One of the hardest parts of writing a book like this is sorting out the biases of your sources. Oil industry experts will swear left right and sideways that pipelines are safe and effective and not at risk for leaking. Environmental experts want you to say just how hazardous a pipeline is.
As you try to decide who is giving out accurate information, you read that the path of the pipeline was moved when white residents of another possible route objected it would put their drinking water at risk. But when Native Americans make the same claim, they are attempting to halt progress.
It is especially tricky when you go into a project with ideas about who is right and who is wrong. When you don’t find the information that you expect to find, is it because big money blocked data and made sure that skewed facts were published. Or are you being resistant when your own prejudices aren’t being supported.
If you love ferreting out facts and trying to decide exactly where the truth lies, consider writing nonfiction. You have to be one part miner, digging things up, and one part detective, following a path to Fact.