The Dakota Access Pipeline protests may have begun this summer as a small gathering of members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but they have grown. Now, the protests have become a movement with ties to environmental protests around the country and allies around the world. Recent signs show that as the protests have grown, the Native American elements are increasingly diluted, leading to fractures between the camp and the Standing Rock tribe itself.
Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II tacitly acknowledged this at a tribal council meeting on Thursday. The meeting discussed moving the encampments away from areas beside the river that are likely to flood when the snowmelt begins.
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 Reutersreport.
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.
My experience within the U.S. government and the International Energy Agency has focused on global energy markets, energy policy and national security. I continue to follow the development of our nation’s energy infrastructure projects with a close eye.
Over the last several months I have been deeply concerned by the slowdown in developing the energy infrastructure needed to take advantage of the energy renaissance underway in the upstream oil and gas industry.
One example, although by no means the only infrastructure delay, is the result of ongoing protests and the Obama administration’s recent action over one such project, the Dakota Access pipeline.
The efforts against the Dakota Access project should serve as a powerful cautionary tale of the dangers of energy policy driven by ideology rather than economic reality. Continued delay of projects like Dakota Access could have a chilling effect on expanding our nation’s energy infrastructure and on efforts to continue bolstering American energy security.
Access to affordable and dependable energy sources is critical for energy security and economic prosperity. Potentially high energy costs and U.S. reliance on oil from unstable regions of the world undermine U.S. foreign-policy flexibility and economic competitiveness.
One of the many facts ignored by activists is that oil produced in the Bakken region and other highly prospective areas will play an important role in our energy production for decades to come.
While I support balanced and comprehensive energy policies that include responsible development and utilization of all energy resources, both traditional as well as alternative sources, the fact is we’re just not there yet and we need to recognize the long lead times involved in these capital intensive projects. The Energy Information Administration projects that by 2040, oil, natural gas and coal will provide about 75% of America’s energy needs — a relatively small change from previous projections.
In a new opinion piece, Craig Stevens, spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, outlined how ‘fake news’ shaped the public debate and governmental decisions regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“We saw fake news play a critical role in the public’s outcry in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Stevens wrote. “From my perspective, it was astounding that individuals and even elected officials were so loose with the truth and so unaffected by the facts.”
Stevens went on to outline several instances when blatantly false information shared by pipeline opponents, including multiple images that originated decades ago during completely unrelated events.
“[A] Facebook image — ostensibly of thousands of Standing Rock protesters — was shared more than 400,000 times. However, a critical eye and a quick Google search debunked the image as a photo from Woodstock 1969.”
As Stevens noted, the ‘Pizzagate’ conspiracy highlighted an extreme example of how ‘fake news’ can have impacts far beyond its origins as white noise on social media channels. In the case of Dakota Access, it is evident that the steady flow of false information allowed mainstream media and elected officials to miss key facts about a vital piece of national infrastructure.
“Taken together, this groundswell of armchair activism, coupled with the perpetuation of fake news, helped support an ultimately political decision that halted a $3.8 billion dollar infrastructure project,” Stevens wrote. “It’s concerning that as we move forward, elected officials and policymakers could so easily be swayed by rhetoric lined with demonstrably false statements.”
The explosion of online and social media platforms has brought tremendous benefits. Open, honest and timely sharing of information can break down barriers, subvert government oppression, and lead to more free and liberated societies around the globe. Social media has provided us with a personal look at the tragedy in Aleppo while giving hope to long lost relatives and parents a thousand gingerbread house ideas.
The power each person holds in the palm of his or her hand has tremendous possibilities; but with that, also tremendous responsibility. Online and social media have given new life to “fake news.” Once isolated among tabloids in the supermarket check-out, online fake news is so prevalent and so influential that PolitiFact named it the “Lie of the Year.”
Following her defeat to President-elect Trump, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed her loss, partially, on the prevalence of fake stories. President Obama echoed similar concerns, saying recently, “if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”
The “Pizzagate” conspiracy, an absurd story alleging that a Washington, D.C., pizza place was a front for a child molestation ring, led a North Carolina man to bring and fire a gun during his “investigation” of the community restaurant. Obviously, #Pizzagate represents an extreme case of the impact of fake news, but the fact remains, fake stories, misinformation and “news” backed with little-to-no-sourcing are driving public opinion and action more than ever before. While the blame is shared among many factors including the ubiquitousness of social media, “reporting” from non-reputable journalists, and readers’ lack of critical thinking; in the end, made-up “facts” are shaping the public’s perception of reality.
In an opinion piece by Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Manufacturers Association and David Taylor, president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association, the authors highlight the importance of the Dakota Access Pipeline as a part of broader American energy security.
This should be a Day 1 priority for the incoming Trump Administration.
“There are no shortcuts to creating a climate that fosters job growth and strengthens manufacturing, but investing in our country’s energy infrastructure is a good place to start.”
The controversy that arose during the Dakota Access Pipeline allowed for an environment of political interests to supersede the needs of America’s energy future and the needs of American workers. But with promises to end the “business as usual” attitude that pervades Washington DC, President-elect Trump has a head start with the promise of this important energy project.
A new report produced by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy finds that America’s energy security is as its strongest point in two decades thanks to domestic oil and gas production.
The 2016 edition of the Index of U.S. Energy Security Risk, which examined an array of geopolitical, economic, reliability, and environmental risk factors, shows that total energy security risk in 2015 dropped to its lowest level since 1996. “The outlook for U.S. energy security is as bright as it has been since we started measuring it back in 2011,” wrote Karen Harbert, president and CEO of Institute for 21st Century Energy.
Not surprisingly, key infrastructure investments like the Dakota Access Pipeline are critical to domestic energy security and newly-defined role as the world’s leader in oil and gas production. In her opening remarks, Harbert makes clear that the benefits of America’s revolution “are contingent on the ability to move these resources to domestic and global markets” and cautions against the politicization of infrastructure needed to sustain continued growth.
On Dakota Access, the report notes the thorough review the project underwent:
The Dakota Access pipeline will link North Dakota’s oil fields with refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast. The project has undergone extensive stakeholder consultation and environmental review, received its national permits, and would run along existing rights of way for a natural gas pipeline and transmissions line. As of this writing, Dakota Access is awaiting a final Army Corp of Engineers easement and is being held up by Keep it in the Ground activists, which means that most North Dakota crude oil will continue to travel by rail.
This is not the first time Dakota Access has been discussed in the context of national security. Earlier this fall, former U.S. Ambassador Richard Kauzlarich called the Dakota Access Pipeline, “a critical step forward in shoring up U.S. energy security by providing safe and efficient transportation of oil inside the United States.” Kauzlarich, who served as ambassador to Bosnia and Azerbaijan under President Bill Clinton, added that Dakota Access will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil and mitigate market volatility.
Whether it be strengthening the nation’s energy security or providing a safer, more efficient way to move domestic energy resources, the Dakota Access Pipeline has demonstrated its merit to the region and the country.
Image courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.
Just hours after being sworn into office, North Dakota’s new governor, Doug Burgum, made clear that he wants the Dakota Access Pipeline completed and the rule of law restored. In a video message, Burgum called on the Obama administration to issue the final easement needed to complete the project and provide federal resources to assist local law enforcement.
“For months, the Obama administration has politically stalled a legally permitted project that had already been through an exhaustive review process and has twice been upheld by the federal courts,” Burgum said. “Failure to finish it would send a chilling signal to those in any industry who wish to invest in our state and play by the rules.”
Burgum also addressed the hefty price tag of the months long protests in Morton County, saying that North Dakota taxpayers should not be responsible for the $17 million the state has spent to counter unlawful activities.
The message came a day after now former Gov. Jack Dalrymple defended the multibillion dollar infrastructure project and blasted protesters for ignoring straightforward facts and trampling the legal process.
“It is unacceptable that the facts of the permitting process were not only omitted in much of the discussion among those who disagreed with the pipeline, but were twisted in order to paint the state of North Dakota and federal government as reckless and racist,” Dalrymple wrote in an opinion piece published in the Billings Gazette.
Anyone surprised by Barack Obama’s last-minute decision to pass on the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline hasn’t been paying attention. Going to war, even with foes of fossil fuels, has rarely appealed to the man who prefers to lead from behind. Rather than provoke the wrath of environmentalists so late in the game, Mr. Obama is determined to punt and run out the clock. It will fall to Donald Trump to take on those who forced the president to take a knee. Once he takes office, the new president must not duck.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has balked at issuing a final permit enabling builders of the pipeline to bore beneath North Dakota’s Lake Oahe to finish the $3.8 billion project. The 1,134-mile pipeline, connecting the North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to storage tanks in Illinois, has triggered protests by members of the Standing Rock Sioux who contend the pipeline would despoil their ancestral homeland and threaten their water supply. Their concerns appear to be exaggerated; the pipeline would pass no closer than to a half-mile of tribal property. Their home “where the buffalo roam” would remain untouched.
The Dakota Access Pipeline, an oil pipeline which starts in North Dakota and will route to Illinois, has been marred by a steady stream of misinformation and rumor. As governor of North Dakota, I feel it is important to share the facts of how the route was permitted through our state, as well as our North Dakota law enforcement’s exemplary management of protesters who have made national headlines.
Recently, many around the world have come to know this project as simply “DAPL” and have used limited information shared through traditional and social media to form opinions about the pipeline, and North Dakota as a whole. Much of this information is neither accurate nor fair.
North Dakota’s connection to the pipeline began in 2014 when Energy Transfer Partners officially filed its application for corridor compatibility and route permit through our Public Service Commission. It is the job of our three-person elected PSC to handle all such matters according to state law. A 13-month review process included public input meetings which were held across the state. As a result of these meetings, the route was modified 140 times to ensure environmental safety, including a shift to follow an existing gas pipeline corridor so as not to create an entirely new pathway. The final route was legally approved and permitted by the state of North Dakota, the location for the crossing of the Missouri River was approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the easement was forwarded to the assistant secretary of the Army for signature.