I was extremely privileged in the last several days to have the opportunity to travel to North Dakota as President of the National Sheriffs’ Association to see firsthand the protest and the response thereto to the Dakota Access Pipeline Project near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation about 25 miles south of Bismarck.
I learned first that the pipeline project, which has been in the works for several years, will traverse four states including North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois carrying crude oil. First, I was surprised to learn that a natural gas pipeline is already underground on the same right of way. The DAP has received all federal approvals over several years and, litigation which attempted to stop it in the federal courts has been resolved. Despite this project being very “federal” in nature and clearly in interstate commerce, the Obama administration has refused to provide any law enforcement or other support to North Dakota state and local law enforcement that has placed them in the position of having to enforce the rule of law. As usual, law enforcement is put between the rock and hard place due to various political agendas.