In a letter to Sheriff Kirchmeier, Col. John Henderson, Omaha District Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, requests assistance from law enforcement to remove trespassing protesters from federal lands. According to the letter, the Corps has not provided any permits for permissions for anyone to access that area of federal property, it has also not been opened to public use for recreation or camping. The letter also includes a map of the area where the Corps is requesting assistance to remove the protesters.
It’s ironic that despite the failure of the federal government to provide resources to the state government, local and state officials are still being tasked by the federal government with removing the protesters. Even more ironic is that the Secretary of the Army, a political appointee by President Obama, was one of the signatory parties to a letter encouraging a stoppage of construction and further review of the project despite the work already conducted by Col. Henderson’s District and two other Corps districts with jurisdiction over the pipeline route. These political actions have in fact allowed the protests to continue despite multiple federal orders that pipeline construction should continue.
Recent comments by the administration have also done no service to law enforcement who are struggling to keep law and order in the area, protect property and workers, and have exercised considerable restraint despite multiple violent actions during protester’s resistance to removal from illegally occupied land. It’s becoming more clear that for officials in Washington these protests are a political football to be kicked around, rather than a safety issue for thousands of Americans who need immediate relief to protect themselves and their property from harm by violent protesters willing to stop at nothing to get their way.
Sadly, it’s also become clear that Mr. Obama is so far removed from the events on the ground, even when his District Commanders are crying out for help, nobody in the Administration is listening.
In an editorial published today, the Bismarck Tribune supported the actions of law enforcement to remove protesters from private land, and to clear a roadblock from a public highway. According to the paper, “there were obvious violations of the law.”
The paper also correctly characterized the operation to remove protesters following their failure to comply with police orders to withdraw from private property; “To the outside world it may have appeared like a military operation, but law enforcement needed to protect themselves. Overall, the operation went smoothly with no serious injuries. It’s unfortunate the situation came to this, but some of the protesters refused to back off.”
This has been the case for several months now in North Dakota. Protesters have encouraged law enforcement to arrest them by failing to comply with instructions to come down off of equipment, to not cross fence lines onto private property, and to maintain a safe distance from public roads. Protesters often have failed to comply and put public safety and the safety of workers in jeopardy which has led to arrests. To then claim that they have been treated unfairly is a gross mischaracterization of police operations, which have taken place only to ensure the rule of law and public safety.
Physical resistance to law enforcement is mounting, and it has begun to divide the protest camps according to the Tribune, “There seems to be some discontent in the camps with dissatisfaction growing over the more militant factions. Some would like to see them evicted. Part of the problem is the reluctance of the protesters to admit to any wrong. They don’t want to concede that law enforcement encountered resistance, not just verbal but physical. During Thursday’s removal of protesters, Tribune video captured protesters arguing over tactics. One was trying to put out a fire while encouraging others to retreat. Another urged protesters to stand their ground and force the issue. He wasn’t seeking a prayerful response.”
Law enforcement has put themselves on the front lines to protect the community, and to ensure the safety of the public amid the increasingly violent protests. It is encouraging to see media like the Bismarck Tribune come out in defense of law enforcement, when so many other outlets appear only to be interested in telling the story from the side of protesters who continue to mischaracterize their own actions as peaceful, when they have only incited violence and lawlessness.
President Obama was asked about the Dakota Access Pipeline and its ongoing protest in a NowThis interview yesterday.
The President called for law enforcement to show restraint and for protesters to remain peaceful over the next few weeks as his administration “let it play out and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that is properly attentive to the traditions of the First Americans.”
It’s unfortunate that the President fails to recognize the incredible restraint showed by law enforcement to this point. Protesters have held largely unpeaceful gatherings which in recent days have culminated in the attempted murder charge of a law enforcement officer and the construction and burning of barricades and bridges along public highways following multiple lawful requests for protesters to withdraw from illegally occupied private property.
Already over 400 individuals have been arrested for charges including arson, trespassing, assault, and attempted murder. There is nothing peaceful about these actions, nor have the protests of the last few months remained peaceful.
Throughout these protests, the Department of Justice has refused assistance to local law enforcement who have remained committed to protecting public safety and private property, as well as enforcing the ruling of two United States Federal Courts: the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Both courts agreed that construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline was lawfully permitted by both the state and federal governments and should be allowed to continue.
It’s time to stop playing politics with this volatile situation. President Obama and his Administration should provide resources for members of law enforcement to enforce the laws in the State of North Dakota and respect the federal process that was adhered to throughout the permitting process.
In a letter published in Inforum, Cory Bryson, a business agent with LiUNA Local 563, thanked local law enforcement for protecting the safety and the rights of pipeline construction workers.
He states: “Every North Dakotan deserves the right to feel safe at home, at work, and in the communities where we live. The actions of the protesters who have illegally occupied private land near Cannon Ball, and ambushed construction site up and down the pipeline right-of-way, have violated those rights, even as they complain loudly about interference with their “right” to trespass and harass workers.”
Since protests began over 400 protesters have been arrested for violent charges including arson, assault, and attempted murder. Morton County, reinforced by state law enforcement and the North Dakota National Guard, is still attempting to establish the rule of law on the camps occupying land on the Cannonball River. Despite the supposed “peaceful” nature of these protests, threats to pipeline workers and law enforcement have not ceased.
In his letter Mr. Bryson calls for an end to the lawlessness, “For months now, our members have worked under constant threat, losing wages and sleep as a result of aggressive and unsafe protest tactics. It must stop. It is time for the federal government to stop delaying completion of this important national infrastructure project. Let us do our jobs, and more importantly, ensure that we are allowed to complete it safely.”
In the wake of arrests following the construction and burning of roadblocks near Cannon Ball, it’s safe to say that protests have worn out their welcome in North Dakota.
What’s more surprising is that even on the Standing Rock Reservation, protesters have also worn out their welcome.
In a CNN report, Robert Fool Bear Sr., 54, district chairman of Cannon Ball says he “has had it with the protesters.’ He says that more than two years ago, when members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe could have attended hearings to make their concerns known, they didn’t care. Now, suddenly, the crowds are out of control, and he fears it’s just a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt. ‘Go down to the camps,’ he says, ‘and you won’t see many Standing Rock Sioux.’”
In order to protect private property surrounding the protest camps, checkpoints have been established to control the unruly mob that continues to destroy property. But these checkpoints have also had a negative impact on the communities not participating in the protests, who are now forced to re-route many miles just to avoid the scene.
According to Fool Bear, “The situation has dissolved to madness,” he says, and he wishes Dave Archambault II, the Standing Rock Sioux chairman, would speak up. “If he had any balls, he’d tell [the protesters] to go home.”
Earlier this week, the governors of Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to adhere to the regulatory process and issue the final easement necessary to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In the Oct. 25 letter, the three governors highlighted that more than 96 percent of the 1,172 mile infrastructure project has already been thoroughly vetted and approved by state utility regulators. Furthermore, the governors noted that Dakota Access has satisfied all of the established federal requirements needed to move forward.
“As governors of three states which the Dakota Access Pipeline route crosses – Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota we write to you today to ask the United States Army Corps of Engineers to adhere to the process which was in place when this project began as you make the decision to issue the final federal easement required for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota,” the governors wrote
They went on to caution that further delays will likely result in negative impacts to their states and the region. “Construction delays will negatively impact landowners and farmers who will risk having multiple growing seasons impacted by construction activities,” they wrote. It is in the best interest of all parties to mitigate any further negative impacts.”
The letter—signed by Govs. Terry E. Branstad of Iowa, Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota—is the latest of in a series of recent high-profile calls for the Army Corps and the Obama administration to allow this critical infrastructure project to be completed.
A few years ago an independent study found that construction of the pipeline in Iowa would amount to $628 million in direct economic benefits while also generating millions in added sales and property taxes. These numbers seemed impressive on paper, but today, the tangible impact they are having is nothing short of extraordinary.
In fact, a recent article published by the Sioux City Journal highlighted just how the $3.8 billion project is making a difference in communities across Northwest Iowa. For many, the impact of the project was felt not long after construction began with workers and their families delivering local businesses an entirely new customer base.
“It’s always hard to gauge the direct economic impact, but you can see those people around,” said Curt Strouth of the Sheldon, Iowa, Chamber and Development Corp. “We definitely noticed the workforce that came through. It’s been a definite influx.”
Similarly, Lyon County Development director Steve Simmons says the influx of pipeline workers has benefited small businesses in the county. “They did see a nice bump in business during the construction process,” Simons said.
In Buena Vista County, Gary Lalone, executive director of Storm Lake United, echoed both Simmons and Strouth. “I know our campground is full. I know a lot of those people, when they come off of work, are in our restaurants and bars,” he said.
This is not the first story we’ve read about the positive contribution the Dakota Access Pipeline is making in communities across the Midwest, but it is a good reminder that, despite the constant flow of political rhetoric, this project is quietly helping others succeed.
The forum, co-sponsored SMU’s William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies and the Maguire Energy Institute, featured a six-person panel representing a range of backgrounds, including Stevens and Dr. Tayeb Benchaita, a Houston-based engineering consultant.
While some participants sought to drive an emotion filled dialogue, Stevens and Benchaita focused on the underlying facts of the case.
The anti #DAPL speakers bring considerable emotion to the discussion. Other side, less so. #SMU forum.
“Pipelines are the safest form of transportation,” said Dr. Benchaita. “It’s cheap. It’s affordable.”
Furthermore, the duo highlighted that pipelines are much safer than trains and trucks and that Dakota Access strengthens national energy interests, while providing thousands of jobs and millions in local economic stimulus.
A coalition of 22 groups representing business associations and workers including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce among others, authored a letter to the Obama Administration that expresses deep concerns over the actions taking place to slow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The letter received coverage in the Washington DC-based political publications The Hill, Politico, Washington Examiner and E&E.
The letter states details the extensive process and permits received by Dakota Access, and criticizes the Administration for upending the regulatory process and ignoring a federal judge’s opinion. According to the letter, these actions by the Obama Administration will do harm far beyond delaying the construction of the project;
“When your agencies upend or modify the results of a full and fair regulatory process for an infrastructure project, these actions do not merely impact a single company. The industries that manufacture and develop the infrastructure, the labor that builds it, and the American consumers that depend on it all suffer.”
The groups urge the Administration to follow the letter of the law, which was met by the company throughout the review and permitting process, and allow construction to continue so that the infrastructure needs of a 21st century economy can move forward.