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Governor Meets with Landowners Affected by Dakota Access Protests

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum recently joined Morton County Commissioners Cody Schulz and Bruce Strinden, as well as Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier for a meeting with area residents affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In a statement, the Morton County Board of Commissioners said more than 50 farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners attended the gathering to share their experiences and concerns about the future. Attendees’ spoke of vandalized equipment, missing livestock, trespassing, as well as the stress placed upon families from numerous school lockdowns stemming from protest activities.

“I was very pleased and encouraged by the meeting,” said Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz in a statement. “The discussion was very honest and frank. People are frustrated, and in some cases scared, but I am just so thankful that people took the time to attend. I’m also grateful to the Governor for taking the time to truly hear the concerns of Morton County residents.”

Going forward, landowners said they remain worried about their safety and the process for holding those responsible for unlawful activity accountable.

“I’m glad I got to hear some of the specific concerns of the farmers and ranchers,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We will continue to do everything necessary to keep our citizens safe. Public safety has been my top priority from the very beginning, and it will continue to be.”

Unfortunately, pipeline opponents continue to engage in illegal activities that have resulted in numerous arrests. Most recently, protesters attempted to trespass onto private property before destroying private property and endangering law enforcement personnel stationed on the Backwater Bridge.


MAIN Coalition Statement on Notice of EIS for the Dakota Access Pipeline

MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement following news that the Obama administration has sent the Federal Register a Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline:

“Despite the policies of the last few years being soundly rejected by the American people, the Obama Administration is using its final hours to allow detainees out of U.S. protection, burrow democratic operatives deep in the federal bureaucracy, and now delay and block lawful infrastructure projects from completion.

“The Coalition certainly believes that the Trump Administration, the courts, and the public will recognize this latest political stunt for what it is – a flailing attempt for relevance. It’s unfortunate that the outgoing administration would try to hamstring the professionals at the Army Corps of Engineers who worked diligently for years to ensure the Dakota Access Pipeline was sited and constructed in the environmentally and culturally sensitive manner.

“We remain optimistic that the incoming Trump Administration will soon issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and also demonstrate a willingness to support American infrastructure projects and the American jobs that go along with them.

“Thankfully for the hard-working men and women across the country desperate for a change, hope is finally on the horizon.  Soon we will have a federal government that works for the people – not one that obstructs growth, entrepreneurship, and ingenuity.”

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Increased Energy Production Underscores Need for DAPL

Domestic crude oil production will grow by an estimated 400,000 barrels per day (b/d) over the next two years according to a new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In the latest edition of the Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA said that the U.S. produced averaged an estimated 8.9 million b/d in 2016 and is forecast to rise to 9.0 million b/d in 2017 and 9.3 million b/d in 2018. The upward trend is in part due to increasing tight oil productivity in areas like North Dakota’s Bakken region. According to the EIA, the growth in production is a result of more drilling activity, rig efficiency, and well-level productivity.Growth in domestic production continues to be huge asset to the U.S. economy, sending gas prices to historic lows, stimulating the manufacturing sector, and allowing American foreign policy to be conflicted by the nation’s energy needs. However, this uptick, particularly in the Bakken region, cannot be sustained without the necessary pipeline infrastructure needed to safely and efficiently move resources to critical refining markets across the country.

The state-of-the-art Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) will support American energy independence in a way that guarantees protections for both our communities and the environment.


FOIA Requests Seek Information Dakota Access Pipeline Decision

The Center for Individual Freedom (CFIF) has sent a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information on communications with Jodi Gillette regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Gillette, a former advisor to President Obama and the sister of the David Archambault, the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, has played a leading role in the misguided efforts to derail the multibillion dollar pipeline project.

In a statement, Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, expressed concern about the lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interests related to the Army Corps’ decision to indefinitely delay a federal easement for the pipeline.

“There have been a lot of rumors about the backroom dealings that led to the Administration’s decision to not issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Lee said. “We would hope that the self-purported ‘most transparent Administration in history’ would provide the American people with the background and information that went into this important decision to halt an infrastructure project that had already been approved and was more than 90 percent complete.”

The requests, which were sent to the Departments of Interior, Justice and Energy, as well as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Army Corps of Engineers, outline CFIF’s concerns about improper influence over the Obama administration’s actions:

There is growing concern about the relationship between Dave Archambault II’s sister, Jodi Gillette, and the Obama Administration. Mr. Archambault is the chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) and a critic of the project. Ms. Gillette is a former senior advisor to the President and Secretary of the Interior, and is currently a lobbyist on behalf of the Standing Rock Sioux with Sonosky, Chambers, Chambers, Endreson & Perry, LLP. We seek to ensure that Mr. Archambault and Ms. Gillette haven’t wielded improper influence over the Administration’s policies that have resulted in delays in the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

I request access to and copies of all records since February 1, 2016, related in any way to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Jodi Gillette. This request includes, but is not limited to, all emails, other correspondence, correspondence logs, records of meetings, records of appointments and visitor logs.

CFIF is currently reviewing other potential FOIA requests on the matter.


Problems Continue At Standing Rock Protest Camp

A recent InsideSources article highlights a tribal meeting regarding the move of the encampments from the flood zone of the Cannonball and Missouri River. Once snows begin to melt in the spring, the camp is threatened by floodwaters at the confluence of the rivers, further demonstrating the ongoing hazard of the non-permanent structures erected at the protest camp.

The article also notes the fractures within the camp and the tribe, as well as the poaching allegations by North Dakota Game and Fish that has caught recent attention.

“Poaching is taking place here, from the camp. There are pictures from it. I saw a video of a deer swimming in circles and then getting stabbed at the camp at the Cannonball River,” said Standing Rock Chairman Dave Archambault. “I saw another picture of a mule deer buck being skinned by non-Indians.”

According to the article, “Signs of the shift from a tribally-driven to tribally-inclusive protest were visible even this fall, when the Oceti Sakowin camp began requiring new arrivals to attend morning orientations and daily camp meetings. The orientations became necessary when outside volunteers began to outnumber tribal members. Increasingly, orientation served to teach non-native protesters how to avoid inadvertently interfering with traditional ceremonies and worship practices.”

What remains remarkable is that despite an ebb in the camp’s population, millions in donated funds from across America remain in the hands of the tribe who has promised to “pay down tribal debts.” Meanwhile the protest camp remains open despite well documented hygiene and public health issues, and continued arrests, bringing the total people arrested since August 10th 2016 to 584.

As the rift grows between pro-camp and anti-camp factions within the tribe, as well as outside pressure from environmental activists, shutting the camp down remains the right decision for the tribal, state, and federal government.


Energy Secretary: Confident U.S. Will Achieve Energy Independence

Outgoing Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz says the U.S. is in an “extraordinarily well-placed position” to achieve energy independence. In a wide-ranging interview with NPR’s Rachel Martin, Moniz highlighted that America is now the world’s leading producer of oil and natural gas and continues to make significant gains in renewable energy development.

“I do want to caution – we are not at the point where we produce as much energy as we use, so we still do have some oil imports,” Moniz said. “But we may reach that point in the next decade some time.”

The U.S. has made tremendous advances in domestic energy production that allow for the safe, efficient recovery of oil and gas resources. This modern day energy renaissance has also resulted in the need for critical upgrades to the infrastructure that transports these resources around the country. That is why projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline are so critical to establishing and maintaining energy independence.


SRST Council Votes to Shut Down Sacred Stone Camp

According to a report from the Free Thought Project, on Thursday, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council voted to shut down the Sacred Stone Camp and upped the pressure on other protesters to provide plans for cleaning up the area. A decision that could not be more appropriate given the harsh weather conditions in the area and the potential for Spring flooding that is expected once the season changes.

In addition to voting to shut the camp down, the Council noted they will use the several million dollars in funds that were donated for the camp’s support to pay off tribal debt. It begs the question, what debt will they be using the funds which were sent in to support illegal protest activity against a lawfully permitted project?

While there was dissension regarding the shuttering of the camp, the decision is the right one. At a time when nearly 40% of individuals and families living on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation live below the poverty line according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, those funds would be better spent providing and maintaining resources on the reservation – not further supporting illegal protest activity that could put people into harm’s way if the weather turns.

Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II stated in the meeting that the camps have rampant health and hygiene issues and must be shut down. Archambault, addressing rumors he and other leaders had simply taken donation money for themselves stated, “[w]e’re not sitting around taking donations,” “but when it comes to the tribe, this council is accountable and responsible for the members it represents — fiscally responsible. So, we’ve always been transparent, whenever resources come to the tribe.”

The report highlights a growing rift between members of the tribe who wish for the protests to end and those that want to continue.


Burgum Highlights Dakota Access in State of the State Address

In his first State of the State address, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum warned Tuesday of potential danger to protesters and first responders if Dakota Access Pipeline opponents don’t vacate a camp in southern Morton County. “Chairman Dave Archambault from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has repeatedly asked for the remaining protesters to leave. We unequivocally support him in this request,” Burgum said. The federal government previously asked protesters to leave in a letter to Standing Rock officials late last fall.

The camp, which was illegally constructed on a managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is likely to flood following the winter thaw this spring. Furthermore, Burgum said cleaning up the area, which is currently littered with abandoned cars, illegal structures and human waste, will be essential to mitigating potential environmental damage.

Building off efforts by former Gov. Jack Dalrymple, Burgum also pledged to deescalate tensions with tribal nations, including upcoming meetings with each tribe in the coming week. “Our goal is to understand each tribe’s individual issues and circumstances so that we may move forward together toward greater mutual respect, harmony and prosperity,” he said.

At the same time, Burgum made clear that enforcing the rule of law and protecting area residents will remain a priority. “Peaceful protest is a protected right of all Americans,” Burgum said. “However, protesters must respect private property rights, court orders and law enforcement personnel. Acts of vandalism, harassment and trespass are not a part of North Dakota’s character and will not be tolerated.”

The MAIN Coalition applauds Gov. Burgum’s continued interest in the peaceful completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and remains thankful for former Gov. Dalrymple’s leadership during challenging times.


New Year, More Arrests

Protests continue against the Dakota Access Pipeline and protesters continue to violate laws across the country, engaging in dangerous actions to draw attention to their causes.

In North Dakota five people were arrested on Tuesday December 27 for trespassing after crossing the Cannonball River onto Army Corps land, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement on Wednesday. Later in the evening, law enforcement said a group of around 100 protesters gathered on a bridge that was the site of previous demonstrations and police fired sponge rounds at people attempting to remove a “No Trespassing” sign according to a Reuters report.

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said in the statement, “actions by protesters yesterday are proving they are not willing to be peaceful, and are certainly not respectful of our mutual agreement.”

But North Dakota isn’t the only site of these actions, two Dakota Access Pipeline protesters unfurled an anti-DAPL banner from the rafters of US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears on New Year’s Day. The banner included a U.S. Bank logo with the word “divest” written vertically down the banner. At the bottom, it said, “#NoDAPL.”

According to police, the protesters demanded the media be present when they came down from the rafters. Once down, they were taken to jail and charged with trespassing.


© 2016