Authorities from South Dakota have reported that someone committed an act of arson on their pipeline on Tuesday. The deliberate vandalism comes just moments before the pipeline was ready to transport oil. The individual responsible hasn't been identified yet. However, it is known that apparently someone used a blowtorch to provide the pipeline with a debilitating hole through its empty sections. These sections are located at its shut-off valves above ground.

A controversy has escalated between Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem and Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputy Chad Brown since the incident occurred.

The sheriff has reported that the suspect allegedly infiltrated a fence around the facility in order to commit the act of sabotage. Deputy Brown, on the other hand, has noted that the site in South Dakota doesn't even have a fence at all.

Pipeline operators have been required to report breaches in their security to the National Response Center. There have been no reports listed on the center's website as this ongoing investigation continues to remain a mystery.

Pipeline protests and previous attacks

President Trump signed executive actions in January to advance the approval of pipelines. Many began to question what his presidency meant for the environment when he contributed this power to such a controversial energy project.

One portion of the project began to move after being stalled for quite some time and that was the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline. The Stranding Rock Sioux tribe has expressed concerns that the pipeline will affect the water resources surrounding the area.

"We have laws that require federal agencies to consider environmental risks and protection of Indian historic and sacred sites," Davis Archambault II said in a statement about pipeline under the Missouri River.

Archambault II is the Standing Rock Sioux tribe's elected chairman.

Hundreds of protesters have been apprehended since the pipeline began as they expressed their views on how it negatively effects the environment and puts the Native American community as risk of societal impacts. Activists from Climate Direct Action have tried to shut down valves in Minnesota, Washington, Montana and North Dakota.

Another protest group, The Red Warrior Society, have gone as far as confronting pipeline security with aggressive tactics within the past year in North Dakota.

Despite many believing desperate times call for pressured measures, the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes stand to differ with them. These two tribes are the primary focus in the legal battle against the pipeline. Their attorneys, Nicole Ducheneaux and Jan Hasselman, have insisted that the tribes do not encourage acts of violence nor do they condone damage to pipeline property.

The dangers of pipeline tampering

Mount Royal University's Kelly Sundberg says that not only is it "stupid and dangerous" mess with shut-off valves, he gave fair insight to those who still believe tampering with them is an effective form of protesting.

Sundberg stated, "Modern oil pipelines are incredibly sophisticated systems that move huge volumes of petrochemicals at high pressures. Simply closing a valve can cause the pressure upstream to increase quickly, creating a significant risk of a spill that endangers the environment and anyone in the area where the pipe suddenly bursts."

The professor studies both environmental crime and energy. He finds it contradicting how people protest on behalf of the environment but engage in acts that cause environmental disasters themselves.