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North Dakota Delegation Calls for Federal Assistance

The surprising refusal of the Department of Justice to provide assistance to law enforcement in North Dakota not only comes on the heels of a request for a meeting between the Attorney General and the head of the National Sherriff’s Association, it also follows a letter signed by Senators Heitkamp (D) and Hoeven (R) and Representative Cramer (R) of North Dakota urging for more federal support.

The bi-partisan letter calls for the DOJ, alongside the Department of the Interior, and Corps of Engineers, to provide additional support for law enforcement in the interest of public safety.

According to the letter, current expenditures in the state have totaled:

• $1.8 million by county sheriffs’ departments.
• $3.75 million by state law enforcement

Future expenditures range between $750,000 to $1 million PER WEEK as long as protests continue, a level of spending that is not sustainable for the state of North Dakota.

To date, 143 individuals have been arrested, many with violent prior convictions, and a vast majority of whom are not North Dakota residents.

These expenses will ultimately impact the taxpayers of North Dakota, who are already living under the physical threats from the protesters. So far trespassing, property destruction, slaughter of livestock, and intimidation of residents and motorists are only a few of the activities associated with the protests. But with swelling numbers of protesters and limited resources for law enforcement, without federal support these protests have the very real possibility of descending further into lawlessness.

DOJ Refuses Help To North Dakota

According to a Daily Caller article just released Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to meet with the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Executive Director Jonathan Thompson about the law enforcement issues at the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.

In an email obtained by The Daily Caller, Executive Director Thompson told NSA personnel, that the Department of Justice (DOJ) refused to deploy federal resources in support of local Morton County, North Dakota Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier in an effort to stem criminal activity from the anti-pipeline protesters. A source close to the situation also told The Daily Caller that the DOJ has told the US Attorney in North Dakota to stand down on aid to the state.

Meanwhile, protesters have continued to threaten nearby residents, motorists, and the press as well as law enforcement officers. 123 individuals have been arrested since August 11th, only 13 percent of which were from North Dakota. Many of whom have a violent prior arrest record that includes robbery, burglary, theft, domestic violence and child abuse, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and drug possession.

Charges stemming from anti-Dakota Access protests include arson, vandalism, trespassing, illegal slaughter of livestock, and destruction of property.

The issues facing North Dakota are certainly not ones that a rural county Sheriff is accustomed to dealing with or has the resources to confront, nor should the burden continue to be placed on the people of North Dakota. The federal government’s response should be twofold; give the assistance necessary to deal with this escalating crisis and as issue the necessary easement to allow the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe. Once this is done and construction can continue, the protests can be effectively muted.

But the ball is in the federal government’s court, and since the Justice Department signed a letter encouraging a halt to construction to “hear all sides” of the argument, they bear the responsibility of allowing these protests to escalate. As the adage goes, you make the mess, you clean it up.

Labor Groups Pressure Obama on Dakota Access

A coalition of labor groups is again asking President Obama to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed without further delay.

In an Oct. 18 letter, the National Infrastructure Alliance urged the White House, along with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Army Secretary Eric Fanning, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to grant an easement for the project to cross beneath Lake Oahe.

“We strongly encourage you to stand up for American workers and American infrastructure by reversing course on your Administration’s extralegal action regarding the Dakota Access Pipe Line, which is sending shock waves through the development community and the membership of our unions,” the letter said.

Furthermore, the alliance characterized the Obama administration’s last-minute intervention in the project as “deeply unsettling” and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent for future proposals.

“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to halt a project for an indefinite period of time, using the leverage that the federal government possesses with regard to its easement on Corps property, is unprecedented and without comparison,” wrote Executive Director Raymond Poupore.

The alliance represents four of the nation’s top construction: the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America; International Union of Operating Engineers; Laborers’ International Union of North America; and International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.

Earlier this month, two separate coalitions of labor groups and energy supply chain organizations also wrote to Obama in support of Dakota Access and the thousands of men and women currently employed by the project.

Illegal Slaughter of Livestock Near Protest Camps Exemplify Costs to Local Community

The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate reports of cattle with gunshot and bow and arrow wounds this week on private property near the camps occupied by anti-Dakota Access Pipeline protesters.

According to Sioux County Sheriff Frank Landeis one cow was shot and another cow had two arrows sticking out of its ribcage.

The cattle discovered this week belong to the same rancher who reported finding two cows and a saddle horse dead on Sept. 27 and finding two dead cow heads in a pasture on Oct. 9, Landeis said. The cattle slaughtered on October 9th were butchered according to the rancher, who has also reported more than 30 head missing from his herd. Separately, three bison were also killed nearby.

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association announced over the weekend it has a reward of up to $14,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible.

News of this most recent attempt at slaughtering animals on neighboring properties comes just after the manager of the camp kitchens indicated that protesters were running out of meat and supplies.

Destruction of private property has been rampant throughout the ongoing protests, and the burden of this destruction has fallen heavily on the local community surrounding the protest sites. As protesters destroy fence lines, degrade the environment by occupying large camps on grasslands, and possibly even slaughter privately held livestock, the livelihoods of the rural agricultural communities in Sioux and Morton Counties are imminently threatened.

Law and order must be restored and upheld. Local communities should not be forced to bear the brunt of these protests without sufficient security to safeguard their herds and land; the source of income for their families. Whoever is responsible for these inhumane acts toward valuable livestock should also be held responsible by the authorities for destruction of property, animal abuse, and poaching.

Dakota Access Delays Could Limit Future Infrastructure Investment

In a new opinion piece, Jack Rafuse, a former White House energy advisor, made clear that the Obama administration’s decision to continue delaying the Dakota Access Pipeline could greatly limit future private investment in nation’s already crumbling infrastructure. According to Rafuse, a decision to deny the project after it has been largely completed would set a dangerous precedent and signal an end to the rule of law.

Private companies do not spend large amounts of time and money frivolously.  They identify a need, conceive a solution, and then establish a goal for attaining it.  They study.  They plan.  They commit to years of regulatory hearings, testimony, proceedings, and detailed reports by the company and by federal, state and local officials.  Only after all those steps have been taken do the private companies commit, and with years to go before ultimate clearances are granted, do they commit.

Furthermore, Rafuse outlined the exhaustive 800-plus day review that the project underwent and the hundreds of consultations that took place between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and 55 different Native American tribes.

Although Dakota Access was ultimately green-lighted by the applicable agencies of four separate states as well as the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), it received those approvals only after a painstaking review process that included continuous consultation with Native American tribes, as well as the verification by three independent sources – USACE (which held 389 meetings with 55 tribes), a federal judge, and the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office (and its Chief Archaeologist, Paul Picha) – that the pipeline’s route near the protest site in North Dakota does not infringe upon any areas of cultural significance.

In addition, Rafuse notes that Dakota Access has already invested more than $1.6 billion in the pipeline and currently supports upwards of 8,000 jobs.

Click here to read Dr. Rafuse’s full piece in Real Clear Energy.

Acts of Arson Occur Again in Iowa

Back in August, the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now published a post which stated there is never an excuse for arson, in response to an incident which occurred in Jasper County, Iowa.

Sadly, equipment belonging to those constructing the Dakota Access Pipeline were again a target yesterday evening as Jasper County authorities responded to several 911 calls which led them to bulldozers and an excavator on fire.

According to a press release from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, “Preliminary investigation indicates that fires were intentionally set. The equipment was operated by one of the companies contracted by the Dakota Access Pipeline project. The damage estimate was approximately $2,000,000. This is the same location that equipment was believed to be intentionally set on fire on August 1st, 2016.”

Following the string of attacks against pipeline workers and equipment, the Iowa State Fire Marshall, ATF, and FBI are all investigating the case. Assistant Chief Don Steenhoek, of the Reasnor Fire Department, suspects that opponents of the project are to blame; “(It’s) pretty senseless,” he said. “They’re not getting back at the pipeline. They’re just hurting the guys trying to make a living and put it in.” Chris Merten, who owns the property where the fire burned, said he’s frustrated because it’s the second fire in three months.

Opponents of the project in Iowa again have failed to condemn the attack and continue to violate private property for anti-Dakota Access demonstrations. There are no excuses for these behaviors. Arson, trespassing, and other non-lawful acts should not be tolerated by the law abiding people of Iowa.

Latest Attempt to Halt DAPL “Shameful and Reckless,” Union Says

LiUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan sent a letter Thursday pushing back against five senators who earlier in the day urged President Obama to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“On behalf of the 500,000 members of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), I write to express my anger and disappointment with your recent opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline,” O’Sullivan wrote in the two-page letter sent to Sens. Bernie Sanders, Dianne Feinstein, Ben Cardin, Ed Markey, and Patrick Leahy.

“You are willfully sacrificing the livelihoods of more than 1,000 LIUNA members and more than 4,000 Building Trades members working on the project on the basis of misinformation and outright lies.”

O’Sullivan’s stern rebuke echoes a statement released by the MAIN Coalition in response to the latest attempt to politicize an essential energy infrastructure investment. “There is no legitimate reason, whatsoever, for the federal government to request another environmental study for the Dakota Access Pipeline – to do so is nothing more than a ploy to kill the project by unnecessary and undetermined delay,” said MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens in a statement.

“The nation is watching this administrative decision: Will the administration respect the rule of law, the regulatory process, and the engineers who did their jobs or will the administration make a decision based on a political preference? If the decision ignores the regulatory process it will have a chilling effect on future private infrastructure development and threaten American jobs.”

MAIN Responds to Sen. Sanders’ Call to Halt Dakota Access Construction

Earlier today U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and four other Democratic senators asked President Obama to halt construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline and order that a full environmental review be completed. In a statement, MAIN Coalition spokesperson Craig Stevens challenged the request, noting that the project has already been fully vetted and approved by both the federal government and four state regulatory agencies.

There is no legitimate reason, whatsoever, for the federal government to request another environmental study for the Dakota Access Pipeline – to do so is nothing more than a ploy to kill the project by unnecessary and undetermined delay.

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been fully vetted and approved by four states and the federal government pursuant to dozens of state and federal regulations including environmental regulations. Two federal courts have ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers met its obligations under the law – and in many cases went beyond the letter of the law to meet the spirit and intent of the legislation. Additionally, the Corps and Dakota Access, LLC, met with thousands of concerned citizens and groups over the past two years to ensure the pipeline traversed the safest, most sensible route.

The nation is watching this administrative decision: Will the administration respect the rule of law, the regulatory process, and the engineers who did their jobs or will the administration make a decision based on a political preference?  If the decision ignores the regulatory process it will have a chilling effect on future private infrastructure development and threaten American jobs.

The MAIN Coalition remains hopeful that administrative actions and judicial decisions will be based on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law that leads to the completion and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline without further delay.

Dakota Access Parent Company Tops List of ‘Investment Heroes’

A new report released by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) shows that Energy Transfer Equity—the Dallas-based parent company of Dakota Access—invested more than $9.3 billion in the United States last year.

Started in 2012, PPI’s “Investment Heroes” report provides an annual ranking of American companies that are making substantial capital investments and improving the national economy in the process. In its latest ranking, PPI outlined 25 firms that collectively spent nearly $177 billion on long-term domestic investments in buildings, equipment, and software.

“To understand which companies are betting on America’s future today, we rank the top 25 companies by their estimated domestic investment in their most recent fiscal year.”

Ranked fourth on the list, ETE stands out as leader in private energy infrastructure development by providing the means to safely move oil and gas resources utilizing private capital for investments rather than placing the burden on American taxpayers.

“This year, as in the previous four years, AT&T is the leading company on our list, having invested an estimated $18.7 billion in the United States in 2015. Next on the list is Verizon, with an estimated $16.5 billion in domestic capital spending, followed by Exxon Mobil, Energy Transfer Partners, Chevron, Walmart, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet.”

For too long America has failed to make essential investments in national infrastructure which will hinder economic progress in the 21st century. The companies outlined as 2016 Investment Heroes are betting on America’s future and making the necessary investments right now—like the Dakota Access Pipeline—that will provide the foundation for new growth in our national economy for decades to come.

Labor Unions Pleased With Resumed Dakota Access Construction

Following a decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, construction is again moving forward on the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

Despite ongoing protest activity, workers from craft trade unions are continuing their work to ensure that the pipeline is constructed on schedule, and using proper safety protocols. Kevin Pranis, marketing manager for the North Dakota Chapter of the Laborer’s International Union of North Dakota said about 400 of the union’s members who are employed on the 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline were back to working on the project on Monday.

“Our members are proud to be building the safest pipeline in North Dakota,” said Tim Mackey, business manager for the North Dakota chapter of Laborers International Union of North America, said. “They just want to know why the federal and state government haven’t done more to keep us safe from protesters who are destroying equipment, blocking roads, following our vehicles and putting us and themselves in harm’s way.”

Crews plan for construction to move forward even as the weather turns colder and protests continue.

“It kinda reaffirms with what we’ve known all along that this is a one hundred percent legal project that Dakota Access is pursuing and building, and we’re just excited to be a part of it,” said Cory Bryson, Laborers Local 563.

87% of the pipeline has already been constructed in North Dakota according to a September construction report.