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When It Comes to DAPL, Stick to the Facts

Today, The Hill, published a piece by MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens where articulated the facts behind the Dakota Access Pipeline project.

Stevens wrote, “During the ongoing protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the public has had a harder time getting to the facts about this important project. Untrue claims are circulating again, and the record needs to be set straight.”

Some of the important facts raised include:

  • The pipeline does not cross reservation land, and runs almost entirely on private property. In fact the pipeline parallels an energy corridor of electrical transmission lines and the Northern Border Pipeline across Lake Oahe.
  • The entire route through North Dakota was approved by the North Dakota Historic Preservation Office.
  • Native American tribes had multiple opportunities for input with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers throughout the permitting process.
  • Multiple meetings were held with community leaders and the public throughout the review phase of the project.
  • The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denied the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request to halt construction of the pipeline near its reservation. Judge Boasberg concluded after an extensive review that “the Tribe has not shown it will suffer injury” if construction proceeds as planned.

Through all of the noise of this very public protests, these facts remain the same and should guide any future intellectual discussion on the pipeline. Inciting violence, trespassing, or damaging property is


Corps of Engineers Permit Doesn’t Allow SRST To Camp North of Cannonball River

In a recent release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Omaha District, the Corps declined to grant a Special Use Permit to allow the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to camp north of the Cannonball River

The tribe recently applied for a Special Use Permit from the Corps for lands north and south of the mouth of the Cannonball river, but because land north of the river is subject to an existing grazing lease, that portion of the application will not be acted upon. Sioux County, south of federal lands on the Cannonball river where protesters are currently encamped is part of the Standing Roux Sioux Reservation.

The proposed route of the Dakota Access Pipeline does not cross the Cannonball River and will parallel an existing energy corridor across the Missouri River alongside an electrical transmission line and the Northern Border Pipeline.

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A Special Use Permit allows the Tribe to use Corps lands under Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 327, Title 33 of the United States Code, Section 408. Several activities on the permitted land require written permission from the Omaha District Commander.

The tribe has not received the necessary additional permission required for activities identified in Title 36 such as construction, either temporary or permanent, of any structures within areas identified in the Special Use Permit. Therefore the protesters are not allowed within the confines of the permit to erect winter-time shelters within the camp, which is not allowed on federal land according to the permit.

In order to adequately follow the provisions of the permit, the tribe must work with the protesters to ensure that the land is restored to its previous state, as well as maintain responsibility for maintenance, damage, and restoration costs. That includes the removal of all waste, structures, as well as the restoration of native grasslands that have been trampled since April as the camp population has swelled to nearly 4,000 people.


Petition Calls on Politicians to “Stop the Political Games”, Finish Dakota Access Pipeline

In the face of an arbitrary halt on construction of a segment of the Dakota Access Pipeline Friends of Manufacturing has released a petition urging politicians to “stop the political games” and acknowledge the fact that the pipeline has fulfilled all of the regulatory requirements to proceed forward:

 After two years of rigorous review, consultations, and planning, state regulatory bodies of four states and the federal government gave final approvals to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Following the successful approval process, opposition to the pipeline went to federal court to stop construction.  The court sided with the builders, who have complied with every request and regulation of municipal, state and federal government bodies.

But last week, the administration announced a plan to “reconsider… previous decisions” regarding a single crossing of the pipeline. Why?

Friends of Manufacturing is a project of the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents a sector employing 12 million men and women. The association released a study late last year showing the positive impact of pipeline construction on manufacturing jobs.

The petition concludes:

Energy infrastructure is essential to growing our manufacturing economy and strengthening our energy security. Let’s come together to move forward, create jobs, strengthen our economy and boost manufacturing.

The time for politics is over. It’s time to put people to work, including the many manufacturers who make this project possible.

To read the text of the petition or sign the petition, follow the link here.


Former Ambassador Encourages the Completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline

Retired Ambassador Richard D. Kauzlarich weighed in on the Dakota Access Pipeline with an op-ed published by Fox News, where he encouraged the construction of the project, highlighted the safety record of pipelines versus the alternatives, and reflected on his own experience of promoting infrastructure development during his time abroad.

The retired statesman carefully laid out the point that there is an economic case for the Dakota Access Pipeline:

As critical as domestic oil production is, it is a stranded asset without the means to transport crude oil to end-markets. The Dakota Access Pipeline will do just that, carrying approximately 470,000 barrels per day from production areas in North Dakota to major refining markets and facilities efficiently and safely. The alternatives of rail and truck transport are far more expensive and risky to the environment than an oil pipeline.

Kauzlarich pushed back at the notion the mistruth often repeated by protestors at the Standing Rock Reservation, alleging that the pipeline somehow took a shortcut to get approval:

Key findings from the USACE review process refute many arguments that the SRST has used to legitimize their protests. Dakota Access officials have surveyed the entire pipeline route on foot, met with local communities, and conducted numerous environmental and archaeological surveys to assess any potential impact construction may have. Neither water supplies nor culturally significant sites have been found to be affected by the construction and operation of Dakota Access.

Finally, the former ambassador invoked his own experience of constructing a pipeline spanning volatile regions in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey:

Emotions ran high as the many political, commercial and environmental issues were resolved and the decision made to build a pipeline – a pipeline that goes under rivers, across areas of contested ownership, and through regions of cultural and historical importance.

Over the past decade, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline (with over twice the capacity of Dakota Access) has proven to be economically beneficial and environmentally safe. That, I believe, is what Dakota Access will prove to be as well.

Read the full article here.


MAIN Coalition statement on the DC Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals issuance of temporary injunction

This evening, the DC Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a temporary injunction blocking construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline within 20 miles of Lake Oahe. MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens released the following statement:

“Although disappointing, we respect the process and the Court’s decision to issue this temporary injunction so it can spend time considering the facts of the case.  Judge Boasberg, in his thoughtful and thorough opinion last week, confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers did their jobs expertly and in accordance with the law.  We are confident that another fair review of the Corps’ work will render the same decision.”


MAIN Coalition Statement On Judge Boasberg’s Decision to Lift TRO West of Lake Oahe

This afternoon, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens released the following statement following Judge Boasberg’s decision to lift the Temporary Restraining Order west of Lake Oahe which will allow construction to continue in that area:

We are pleased that Judge Boasberg lifted the Temporary Restraining Order west of Lake Oahe allowing construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue in that area.  We appreciate the Judge’s recognition that the United States has a rigorous and robust regulatory process in place and we need to honor it. 

In his thoughtful and thorough opinion last week, Judge Boasberg confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers did their jobs expertly and in accordance with the law. 

The Corps followed the regulatory process by ensuring that the project met requirements including those under the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

With regards to the Administration’s continued hold on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the MAIN Coalition believes that should the Administration base its decision on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law the project will be allowed to move forward.  However, if the decision is politically motivated and the pipeline is forced to be rerouted or canceled, it would send a chilling message to companies looking to invest in any American infrastructure project.


ND Congressional Delegation and Governor Call On Administration To Provide Resolution and Federal Law Enforcement Resources

In a letter to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer and Governor Jack Dalrymple called for the allocation of law enforcement resources to ensure public safety during ongoing demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The letter cites the costs to North Dakota of the indefinite delay of final authorization to cross Lake Oahe which includes a strain on state law enforcement resources.  Additionally, the delegation and Governor have requested “a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps),  North Dakota’s governor, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the company to discuss this matter and work toward a solution, as the Administration’s unprecedented announcement warrants further clarification.”

It also outlines the following questions for detailed response by the Administration:

  • How will the Army Corps “move expeditiously” to make a”clear and timely resolution” on the proposed project, as stated in the joint press release on September 9,2016?
  • How long will the Army Corps require to “determine whether [the Army Corps] will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws”?
  • Please detail the exact timeline and evaluation criteria the Army Corps will use to make this new determination.
  • When will the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Interior, and the Army Corps convene atribal consultation on the overall permitting process as stated in the letter? Where will this consultation take place? Who will be invited? How will this effect, if at all, any decision on the authorization for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe?

Despite the fact the pipeline was lawfully reviewed and approved by 4 states and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a Nationwide 12 Permit, and those permitting decisions were upheld by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Obama Administration released a statement calling for the voluntary cessation of construction activities near Lake Oahe, and for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions.”

Following a conference call with the DOJ, DOI, and USACE, the delegation and governor specifically requested the following:

  • Immediate additional federal law enforcement officers to assist local law enforcement in their efforts to keep the peace.
  • Federal funding to cover the cost of additional policing. The state has already spent $1.8 million to date, and estimates it will spend approximately $125,000 a week based on current circumstances.
  • A clear and timely resolution on the Dakota Access Pipeline project, apart from any review of the current process for consulting with tribes in the future.

Congressman Cramer said, “since the Administration created this problem, it has the obligation to fix it,” said Cramer.  “It’s long past time to restore order.”

“With its decision on Friday to delay the pipeline project, the federal government shares in the responsibility of making sure that peace and order are maintained,” Gov. Dalrymple said.

Assistant Attorney General William Baer committed to responding to the delegation and governor on Friday.

 

 


Experts, Elected Representatives, Union Members Warn of the Dangers of Halting the Dakota Access Pipeline

The Obama administration’s decision to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline, despite a go-ahead from a federal judge, was met with across-the-board criticism from energy experts, politicians, and representatives of unionized labor. Their concerns were expressed in an article posted by Fox News yesterday.

Rep. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota’s at-large Representative, called the decision “fundamentally unfair” in a written statement:

“It seems more than a little confusing that moments after a federal judge issued an order stating, among other things, that the Corps of Engineers and the pipeline company did everything the law requires of them and more, the Obama Administration decides to change the rules..”

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute called for the pipeline’s construction to move forward:

“The administration’s recent attempts to change the rules, in the middle of the game, set a dangerous precedent for our country that could threaten other infrastructure projects like bridges, roads and electricity transmission…”

Sean McGarvey of North America’s Building Trades Unions contended that the President’s decision was a clear example of putting politics above the rule of law:

“We fear that President Obama has now set a dangerous precedent where political considerations can now thwart or delay every single infrastructure project moving forward…”

Brigham McCown, the former acting administrator of the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) raised concern about the impact that the decision could have on other infrastructure projects underway around the country:

“This could bog down or delay every single infrastructure project moving forward (…) I don’t think they even realize the can of worms they’ve opened…”

The Dakota Access Pipeline, once completed, will serve as a vital link to North Dakota’s Bakken shale play, which, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, contains an estimated 7.4 billion barrels of oil.

Read the full article here.


AFL-CIO Joins Long Standing Supporters of the Dakota Access Pipeline

In a statement by President Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO, which represents over 12 million workers, joined in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline:

“The AFL-CIO supports pipeline construction as part of a comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, makes the United States more competitive and addresses the threat of climate change. Pipelines are less costly, more reliable and less energy intensive than other forms of transporting fuels, and pipeline construction and maintenance provides quality jobs to tens of thousands of skilled workers.

We believe that community involvement in decisions about constructing and locating pipelines is important and necessary, particularly in sensitive situations like those involving places of significance to Native Americans. However, once these processes have been completed, it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay. The Dakota Access Pipeline is providing over 4,500 high-quality, family supporting jobs. 

Furthermore, trying to make climate policy by attacking individual construction projects is neither effective nor fair to the workers involved.  The AFL-CIO calls on the Obama Administration to allow construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline to continue.”

The AFL-CIO joins longstanding labor supporters, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and United Association (UA) who together recently authored a letter to North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple encouraging him to create a safe work environment for those constructing the project following the violent actions of protesters. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) alongside members of the MAIN Coalition throughout the Midwest also stands in support of the pipeline.

With the AFL-CIO’s endorsement, organizations representing over 15 million workers have joined in supporting the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.


DAPL Construction in Illinois Marked by Cooperation between Company and Local Communities

The Dakota Access Pipeline is nearly halfway done and according to The State Journal-Register, work is proceeding smoothly in the Illinois section of the route.

Morgan County highway engineer Matt Coultas favorably described the hands on approach taken by the contractor building the project, Precision Pipeline from Wisconsin:

“I remember another pipeline that came through the area a few years ago, and this has been most pleasurable compared to that… It’s been nice to be in the know about where they’re at. I get a daily email about what areas they are working at in the county and what activities are happening in those areas so I can know what to expect. I’ve been pretty appreciative of that.”

Murrayville Village President Jay Lewis praised the awareness of and sensitivity towards the local community exhibited by workers:

“They do a good job with the roads. They try to accommodate for traffic and keep things cleaned and swept up. I’ve seen the sweeper out on the road several times… We talked to a couple of the bosses for the pipeline and told them that with school starting back up and all of the truck traffic to be sure their guys are watching out, keeping to the speed limits and everything. They’ve done a super job with that.”

Lewis also mentioned the economic benefits of having the pipeline workers in the county:

“several of the guys working on the pipeline stay around Murrayville, they buy their gas and eat at our establishments… They are always respectful to everybody and are very well-mannered guys that try to help out in any way they can.”

Rhonda Cors, the president of the Village of Woodson, IL, expressed similar sentiments about the pipeline’s economic impact, describing the pipeline as “a great thing, it brings a few more jobs to our area.”

Village President James Rausch of Meredosia echoed the sentiment, saying the workers are:

“…are very friendly and accommodating… They visit local businesses, the restaurants and liquor establishments, and never a minute of trouble out of any of them here in this community (…) They are very conscientious about how they conduct business and how they treat the land. Once they’ve completed, you go back and look at it, and you can’t tell that there’s ever been anything there.”

The landowners too, have expressed satisfaction with the way the company has interacted with them. Bob Dahman, an 86 year-old landowner from Scott County said:

“My sons and I met with them several times, and they treated us real nice. They’ve already gone through my farm and got it buried. We are pleased with the way they spread the dirt back out. We pulled up right beside where they were digging and watched them work. They put in a 30-inch pipe, I think, and they buried it pretty deep, too. (…) When it came to the final go-around and they gave me the money, I just divided it all up between me and my grandkids and my kids (…) it was a hell of a lot more than I ever gave for the farm. It was about 20 times what I paid for the farm in 1949 or 1950.”

Elsewhere, Mount Sterling City Administrator Vada Yingling expressed satisfaction over the sales tax revenue that the workers have generated for local communities:

“A lot of the workers are staying locally, they are spending dollars in our community, they are buying gas and food, paying rent, coming out in the evening and enjoying our establishments. They are creating sales tax revenue for us. A handful brought campers in to our fairgrounds that are paying to stay there. It’s been a shot in the arm for us.”

Once completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline will connect the Bakken oil play with a refinery in Patoka, IL, and will continue to benefit Illinois in several million dollars in tax revenue annually.

Read the full article here.