The Washington Post recently published a supportive opinion editorial from former Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) and Daryl Owen of Owen Associates which examined how the protest and activity over the Dakota Access pipeline has grown of proportion.
From violent protest activity to millions of dollars of damage to equipment and even disturbing death threats to employees – the tactics being deployed against the project are unseemly and unnecessary.
In the column, Johnston and Owen highlight efforts of sabotage against operational pipelines across the country and the danger that such actions can create. They write that the protests are no longer about opposition to the project, but rather a new tool in the effort to stop the development and use of fossil fuels.
In addition to examining the true nature of the protest and the violence ensuing, Johnston and Owen highlight that, “[t]his is, after all, a pipeline project,” and not simply the first of which would cross the Missouri River – it would be one of dozens that do so carrying American energy products. The final piece of the puzzle, is as they say, “part and parcel of a river-crossing permit the pipeline has already received. It is a simple ministerial action authorizing the pipeline to cross beneath federal lands and, for want of a simple signature by an Army Corps bureaucrat, would finalize the process. By arbitrarily refusing to follow the law, the Justice Department has placed a lawfully permitted, vital $4 billion infrastructure project into suspended animation.”
The authors also note that the tribe who has sought to stall the project “largely refused to engage in [the] consultations” after much inquiry – a fact echoed by a federal court judge who reviewed the Army Corps findings and determinations. Johnston and Owen write that “there is much to be discussed and much to be regretted about the past 150 years of U.S.-tribal relations. But a real estate document for a pipeline river crossing seems hardly the pretext to do so.”
The Administration and Federal Government’s decision to withhold the final piece of multi-billion dollar project, in Owen and Johnston’s own words, it sends “a chilling message to the private sector about the rule of law as it relates to infrastructure development.”
It is simply unacceptable that the Federal Government has continued to delay the completion of this project – after all, their approval was already granted in July of this year. The fact remains, a single 1,000 foot section of an 1100 mile project, is currently held up by opponents who have already stated their mission is far greater than the Dakota Access Pipeline – but simply to withhold the development of America’s energy future.