Pipeline Supporters Blast Obama, Can’t Wait for Trump

The Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now is blasting the Obama Administration for requesting an Environmental Impact Statement on the Dakota Access Pipeline, which could further slow completion of the project.

Environmental activists and pipeline protesters have been pushing a mailing blitz to demand that the Army Corps of Engineers complete the impact study. A recent tweet indicates that Obama will force the issue.

The MAIN Coalition represents labor, business and ag interests, and has promoted the controversial pipeline project. Spokesperson Craig Stevens, in a statement sent to the Pilot-Tribune, said Obama’s action at the end of his presidency is inappropriate.

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Hoeven: Obama Administration Trying to Delay DAPL Again by Changing the Rules

WASHINGTON — Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement in response to the Obama administration and Assistant Secretary for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy’s decision to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do an environmental impact statement (EIS) prior to issuing an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline project:

“The Obama administration is again trying to delay the Dakota Access Pipeline project by changing the rules. The company has complied with all federal and state requirements and should now be allowed to complete the project. Since the current administration will not issue the final easement, the Trump administration should approve it without delay.

 

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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.


New North Dakota Governor Expects Controversial Pipeline To Be Built

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who took office last month in the height of tensions surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, said he believed the line would eventually be built and asked opponents to clean their protest camp before spring floodwaters create a potential ecological disaster.

A centrist Republican with no prior political experience, Burgum was elected in a landslide on a platform of streamlining government and improving relations across the state. Burgum built a successful software business before selling it to Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in 2001.

Burgum told Reuters that approval of the pipeline appeared to be a foregone conclusion once Donald Trump moved into the White House.

“I expect the world’s going to change dramatically on that day relative to finding resolution on this issue,” Burgum said in an interview. “I would expect that (Energy Transfer Partners (ETP.N)) will get its easement and it will go through.”

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Group Requests Details On “Backroom Dealings” Before DAPL Permit Decision

Few members of the Standing Rock Sioux have as many ties to Washington, D.C. as Jodi Gillette, the sister of the tribe’s chairman, Dave Archambault II. When Gillette retired from her position in the Obama White House, Bismarck’s paper wrote that “Jodi Gillette probably has been more involved in the Obama administration than any other North Dakotan.” Now these ties are the subject of a Freedom of Information Act request seeking to see if she used her ties to the administration to influence decisions about the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Tuesday, the Center for Individual Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking “ all records since February 1, 2016, related in any way to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Jodi Gillette,” including emails, visitor logs, and meeting minutes.

“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,” said Timothy Lee, CFIF’s Senior Vice President of Legal and Public Affairs, who filed the FOIA request.

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On Standing Rock, Politics Trumped Facts And Law

Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers, pursuant to political pressure, reversed its prior decision and denied the final permit needed to complete construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The pretext: that the pipeline company, after years of planning and reliance on the U.S. government’s decisions and representations to the courts, should explore alternate routes. The announcement puts politics over the rule of law. When Donald Trump enters the White House, he should quickly reverse this political decision and allow construction to resume.

The pipeline, which passes near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, provoked sharp dissent from Indian leaders worried about its potential effect on water supplies and sacred Indian land.

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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.