To hear the protesters near Standing Rock Reservation talking about their actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline, you would think that oil is something we can live without as a society. That is just simply not the case. It seems that the participants themselves use plenty of oil-based products. From the tents they sleep in, to the markers they use to write their slogans, to the plastic water bottles they use to hydrate themselves (which is strained though petroleum-based filtration systems), the protesters are examples of just how fundamental petroleum is to our daily lives.

Conversely, these examples highlight the lack of ideas that the protesters and the organizations behind them have for America's energy future. These organizations, such as Earthjustice, which is suing the company constructing Dakota Access, are not interested in being responsible stakeholders, but as is written on Earth Justice's website, they target and block development of every stage of the life cycle of traditional energy.

The truth is, we need hydrocarbons such as petroleum. Look around you, and you'll find that pretty much any modern invention, device, or tool traces its development to hydrocarbons.

The protesters at Standing Rock and those backing them should be honest with the American people about the real costs of blocking the development of projects like Dakota Access. These types of projects are a vital link in our national energy infrastructure grid that enable us to lead the lives we want.

Ensrud lives in Tioga, N.D.