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Obama’s Comments On Dakota Access Reflect Blasé Attitude Toward Future Infrastructure Investment

In a column published in Red State, Seton Motley characterizes the troubling comments President Obama made on the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline as part of a larger pall of uncertainty often cast by this administration on private sector investments.

For that reason, he contends, America’s economy has yet to fully recover from the massive recession which occurred nearly 8 years ago at the onset of the Obama presidency.

The critical component of his argument, as it relates to Dakota Access, is that despite the fact that the government is set up for orderly process and legal review throughout the regulatory process, the Obama Administration has bypassed all of this. Instead the past 8 years have been “governed by a massive flood of regulatory fiats – issued by unelected bureaucrats. Whom we can’t lobby. Of whom we can’t rid ourselves in the next election. (In fact, we can’t get rid of them just about ever.)”

What that leads to is uncertainty on important future investments like Dakota Access. Without certainty in the marketplace, investors will be hard pressed to expend massive amounts of capital necessary to update America’s critical energy infrastructure. Coupled with the administration’s refusal to back law enforcement, the climate of uncertainty for the future in North Dakota becomes all the more troubling.


Inforum: Media Spins Fairy Tales of Peaceful Protests

The MAIN Coalition has shared previously that for nearly three months now, the protest activity has ranged from violent interactions with law enforcement to millions of dollars’ worth of destruction of property and equipment. This is, of course, contrary to what the “peaceful” protesters in Cannon Ball would like you to believe, and what some media outlets have reported.

Inforum published a letter-to-the-editor this week highlighting the misinformed reality of the protests and noted that “[d]espite facts, some media outlets  [have] spun the narrative once again into the realm of make believe: That the peaceful protesters were simply praying and were then violently attacked.”

We’ve known now for months the protests are anything but peaceful. From the illegally blocked public roads, assaulted journalists, charred bridges, slaughtered animals, and yes, even attempted murder charges of one protester who fired shots aimed at law enforcement – the situation and unrest is unacceptable.

The protesters must adhere to the law – they have a right to protest – but as President Obama stated, they must do so peacefully. There is nothing peaceful about their actions to date.


Grand Forks Herald Editorial: Dakota Access Protesters Want Villain to Rally Against

A recent editorial published by the Grand Forks Herald exposes the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s tactics used to spread falsities about law enforcement and strengthen unity for their cause.

More recently, it’s clear that some protesters still want a villain to rally against. Some of their actions even seem designed to bring back the spectre of King George III and his Redcoats. Setting barricades on fire, charging police while on horseback and resisting arrest all look like efforts to make police use force. Then the idea is to put video that force on social media, where it’s likely to make police look bad.

Law enforcement has demonstrated a highly professional, restrained response to the increasingly violent anti-pipeline protesters. Authorities have been able to effectively handle a delicate situation without overreacting and playing into the hands of law breakers.

Thanks to this restraint, which comes at real risk to the officers’ safety, North Dakota officials credibly can refute protesters’ wilder claims. Arrestees were kept in “dog kennels”? No, they were held for hours—not days—in indoor chain-link-fence enclosures, simply because the local jails are full. Suspects had numbers inked on their arms, “like in concentration camps”? No; a mark from a pen is not a tattoo, and wanting to link people with their possessions—stored separately in numbered plastic bags—is a world away from genocide.

The Grand Forks Herald hit the nail on the head with this thoughtful analysis. Law enforcement have deserve both our respect and gratitude maintain order in a hostile environment.


Sheriff’s Say Obama Putting Lives in Danger

The National Sheriffs’ Association sharply criticized President Obama’s comments on the Dakota Access Pipeline, saying that his decision to let “things play out” puts lives at risk. In a statement, NSA Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Thompson said the following:

Law enforcement is in the middle of a powder keg in Morton County, N.D., and last night President Obama said: “We’re going to let it play out for several more weeks…”

Law enforcement officers are protecting private property and the right to protest in Morton County. There have been 415 arrests in connection with the riots. Just 8 percent of are from North Dakota, while the other 92 percent are from 43 other states stretching from Vermont to Florida to California. This includes militant agitators with long histories of violence, including domestic assault, child abuse and burglary.

Protesters have allegedly fired a weapon and thrown Molotov Cocktails at law enforcement and President Obama is “going to let it play out for several more weeks.”

Mr. President, this is not a game. As we saw in Iowa this morning, where two police officers were ambushed and murdered, law enforcement is real life and, all too often, real death.

Sheriffs, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven, Rep. Kevin Cramer, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley have repeatedly called for assistance from the federal government.

Letting it play out, as the President has recommended, puts precious lives – protesters, workers, tribal members, ranchers, farmers and law enforcement – in danger. Unless the President can provide us with assistance and support, the President should be held partially responsible for the fear, terror, and damage caused by violent, militant out-of-state agitators.

Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of this dangerous standoff and know firsthand that protests that protests have not been “peaceful and prayerful.” These brave men and women have put their lives on the line in the interest of upholding the rule of law and protecting law-abiding citizens. The President should be thanking these civil servants and hanging them out to dry.


Reporter Assaulted by Protesters At Standing Rock

New York Post reporter Phelim McAleer recently visited the site of anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protests expecting to find what is often reported in the media, a peaceful non-violent prayerful protest against an energy infrastructure project.

What he found was quite different. In his own words,

“A young man claiming to be “security” came up and grabbed my microphone. I wouldn’t let go. He dragged me across the field — just for asking questions.

But worse was to follow, as my crew and I fled to our car.

When we tried to drive off, we were surrounded by cars and people. Two trucks blocked our way forward, and another pulled up tight behind. We couldn’t move. These weren’t grandmothers burning sage. They were angry, young masked men banging on the windows — threatening to slash our tires, demanding we exit the vehicle. Some warned that if we didn’t get out and hand over our footage then “we can’t control what’s gonna happen next.”

As we tried to call the police, they warned that the cops wouldn’t come onto the campsite — they hadn’t yet after two months of protests. I’m an Irish nationalist who grew up under British rule in Ireland, but according to those attacking my car I was ‘part of the problem with my settler mentality.’”

Mr. McAleer’s report confirms that despite the claims from anti-infrastructure activists, left-leaning media outlets, and Presidential comments, protests in North Dakota are in no way peaceful, and in fact are a danger to public safety. Without protester cooperation with the authorities, without reasonable and peaceful dialogue, these protests seem to only continue, and public safety only to be threatened further.


MAIN Coalition Statement on Richard Kuprewicz Commentary

Following the release of an opposition-generated report signed by anti-pipeline activist Richard Kuprewicz, the spokesman for the MAIN Coalition, Craig Stevens, released the following statement:

“That an activist-funded, back-of-the-envelope commentary is even mentioned in the same breath as a 160 page scientific and technical analysis of more than 1,600 pages of charts, graphs, independent research and study, public input, and impact mitigation plans, done over the course of more than 800 days is not only ludicrous but also insulting to the dozens of Army Corps of Engineers and civil servants who toiled more than two years to ensure this pipeline project adhered to our nation’s rigorous regulatory requirements.

Had this been an industry-funded screed it would be immediately dismissed. This should be given that same value.”


Regulator: Standing Rock Sioux Absent During Dakota Access Review

North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak recently confirmed that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe failed to participate in the state’s 13-month review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Speaking with NPR’s Morning Edition, Fedorchak noted that tribal representatives never attended any of the PSC’s public hearings despite personal outreach urging them to weigh in.

“The Standing Rock tribe did not participate in our public hearings or, quite honestly, at any point throughout our 13-month review process,” she said. “Here’s the situation, though, we notified the tribes. We had a personal call go out to the tribes urging them to participate, and we had a hearing 45 minutes from Cannonball.”

Fedorchak further noted that, despite the tribe’s absence, hundreds of others did engage in the process. When asked about the agency’s review of cultural resources, Fedorchak stressed that the entire route was carefully examined by certified archaeologists.

“The entire route of the pipeline was examined on foot by certified archaeologists. They identified more than 500 different cultural resources that needed to be protected, and the pipeline route was altered 140 times to avoid cultural resources. So those include Native American resources, but they also include other historic artifacts.”

Meanwhile, Fedorchak has also refuted claims that the pipeline was originally supposed to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck and not beneath Lake Oahe.

“The river crossing north of Bismarck was a proposed alternative considered by the [Dakota Access] company early in the routing process. This route was never included in the proposed route submitted to the PSC and therefore was never vetted or considered by us during our permitting process,” she said in an Oct. 27th statement. “The final permitted route follows an existing pipeline corridor that has been previously disturbed.”


Editorial Classifies Protests As “Failing”

In a recent editorial, Inforum called for the lawlessness of the ongoing protests near Cannon Ball, North Dakota to be curtailed no matter the underlying issues between Native Americans and Americans of European-descent.

The realities on the ground are that despite the claims of Natives that protests are peaceful they are in fact far from peaceful. According to the editorial, “There is nothing peaceful about illegal weapons and illegal drugs. There is nothing peaceful about cattle theft and slaughter, and the destruction of fences and the torching of construction equipment. There is nothing peaceful about blocking public roads and bridges, and intimidating motorists or children on school buses. There is nothing peaceful about defacing the Capitol with motor oil.” All are actions that have been taken by protesters to this point.

There is no simple solution to the underlying issues of the treatment of Native Americans throughout the history of the United States.

But this protest and this pipeline are not a referendum on those issues, it is a matter of enforcement of existing law to ensure that property rights and workers’ rights are respected. There are three simple facts that must be taken into account.

  1. This pipeline was approved for construction by both state and federal authorities following an open call for public comment, multiple meetings, and a thorough nearly two year review process.
  2. The permitting of this project was upheld by two levels of the United States Federal Court system.
  3. The law of the land, as it is written, should be enforced. Any changes to the consultation process should not affect a project already permitted under federal and state law and currently under construction.

North Dakota is hemorrhaging millions of dollars to keep public order. The federal government has abandoned law enforcement and refused aid while ignoring court rulings favoring the continuance of construction. According to Inforum this is “giving protesters false hope and, among some elements within the encampment, license to commit crimes. Tribal leaders have lost control, with at least one elder telling out-of-state agitators to leave the protest sites, and others negotiating a move of the protest from public lands to tribal lands, also with mixed success.”

This conflict must come to a close before more serious consequences arise. The only way to do so is to signal federal support for the rule of law, and certainly not to “let it play out.”


Manufacturers Call For Completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline

In a ShopFloor column, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) calls President Obama’s remarks on a possible re-route of the Dakota Access Pipeline “deeply troubling,” and an “unprecedented step not just for this pipeline project but for all future American infrastructure projects.”

The NAM rightly points out that if this is a precedent being set by the Administration, no private company would ever think to invest billions of dollars into a private infrastructure investment like the Dakota Access Pipeline. And it’s those types of investments America needs to sustain and grow our economy. They also reference a letter, written along with 21 other invested groups, expressing concern over continued delays. The sad part is, that letter was written a month ago, and still the final easement has not been issued.

The federal government has put themselves and the people of North Dakota in a precarious position teetering on the edge of the total breakdown of public order in Morton County. Only by approving the final easement, supporting law enforcement efforts to keep the peace and enforce the rule of law, and allowing construction to continue will these protests end.

There is no more room for idle remarks from the Obama Administration about appeasing the interests of both sides; enforce the law, allow construction to continue.


US Chamber Criticizes President Obama On Dakota Access Remarks

Following recent comments by the President to online news outlet, NowThis, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slammed President Obama’s disregard for the legal process that approved and permitted construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In their release, the Chamber stated, “The point of the rule of law is to protect rights by having a known, understandable, and certain process.”

It’s criticism we’ve leveled before at the Administration, and the chorus of voices in opposition to the wave of the proverbial scepter of the presidency only continues to grow as laborers, law enforcement, and members of the business community speak out against the president’s sweeping statements and extrajudicial actions.

The Chamber’s release also quoted MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens who stated, “While a reroute sounds simple enough, it is in fact incredibly difficult, time intensive, costly and may actually be impossible.”

The route was determined following a series of studies and hearings in North Dakota, and a lengthy approval process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Though lengthy and thorough, that legal process allowed for all sides to submit input on the pipeline and express concerns to authorities with jurisdiction over the project. At no time did the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe engage in the process to express concerns at the state level, and following consultations with the Corps, the Tribe often refused to attend meetings on the project.

This is not the kind of behavior that should be rewarded, nor should the Chief Executive of the United States bow to the actions of rioters. President Obama should enforce the laws on the books, and should he want to propose legal changes to the process, it should not retroactively affect an already approved project like the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Plain and simple; this pipeline was approved by a legal process, and the President should respect the rule of law.

Several more weeks of chaos isn’t something North Dakota can afford, and a growing group of law-abiding individuals now including the business community has made it clear: enough is enough.