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Sheriff’s Association Releases Quotes Highlighting Activist Involvement in ND Protests

Several quotations were released by the National Sheriff’s Association which highlighted the involvement of professional protesters and activists in the ongoing anti-Dakota Access protests in North Dakota.

Remarkably, even members of the Standing Rock community seem to bemoan the behavior and attitude of non-Native Americans participating in the protests. The camps have attracted disaffected groups, often with radical views, from across the country who are pushing for more confrontation with police and pipeline workers. Even Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault lamented the environmental impact of so many people squeezed onto such a small piece of land: “Before this entire movement started, that was some of the most beautiful land around… There was a place down there where eagles, over 100 eagles would come and land. There were game down there—deer, pheasants, elk, geese. Now, it’s occupied by people. And when masses of people come to one place, we don’t take care of it.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)

Here are a few other quotes from members of the local government and the protesters:

Morton County Commission Vice Chairman Bruce Strinden: “For many of these radical environmental groups and professional protesters who have come into our county, from everywhere from California to New York, the facts would have ruined a perfectly good protest opportunity. Most never met a protest they didn’t like, and they certainly never let the truth get in the way of their national environmental agenda.” (Bruce Strinden, “Who Are The Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Standing With,” Washington Examiner, 11/28/16)

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney: “There’s definitely a group in here that uses [the peaceful protesters] as their disguise… [These protestors] want back through [police lines] because they know if they can get through they can get up to the drill pad site, they can get to the area where the workers are. I guarantee you if they get through us there’s going to be people getting hurt because they will confront the workers up there, and they will defend themselves. And the best way we can protect everybody is be a barrier in between that and where they want to go do the damage. They’ve made it very clear that they know if they can stop the drilling or stop the company by damaging their equipment or damaging their stuff then they feel they’ll have stopped it.” (Morton County North Dakota, “Know the Truth – A series of videos about the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest at Standing Rock,” YouTube, 11/28/16)

Former Standing Rock Protestor Alicia Smith: “Need to get something off my chest that I witnessed and found very disturbing in my brief time there that I believe many others have started to speak up about as well. White people colonizing the camps… They are coming in, taking food, clothing etc and occupying space without any desire to participate in camp maintenance and without respect of tribal protocols… These people are treating it like it is Burning Man or The Rainbow Gathering and I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to those festivals.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)

Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault:  “[The camp is in] a flood zone, so when the floodwaters come up, that waste is going to be contaminating the water. We’re no different than the oil company, if we’re fighting for water. What’s going to happen when people leave? Who has to clean it up? Who has to refurbish it? It’s going to be us, the people who live here.” (Valerie Richardson, “Complaints Grow Over Whites Turning Dakota Access Protest Into Hippie Festival,” Washington Times, 11/28/16)

Army Corps Orders DAPL Protester to Leave, Then Says Won’t Enforce

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is cracking down on Dakota Access Pipeline opponents who have been illegally camping in federal lands since August.

In a November 25th letter to Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault, Omaha District Commander Colonel John Henderson said the area, which is home to the Oceti Sakowin camp, will be closed to public access starting on December 5th due to safety concerns stemming from oncoming winter weather and recent clashes with law enforcement officials.

Not surprisingly, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and other protest organizers have vowed to remain at their camp, which has been the subject of increased scrutiny following revelations that permanent structures are being built in violation of federal law.

North Dakota’s top elected officials welcomed the Army Corps’ move to evict protesters, but also questioned whether the Obama Administration would follow through and enforce the order.

“The decision by the Army Corps is a needed step to support the safety of residents, workers, protestors, and law enforcement,” said North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp. “Safety must remain the top priority for everyone, and to help make that possible, it’s critical protestors peacefully and lawfully move off of the Corps land north of the Cannonball River and to the identified federal and tribal lands.”

Senator John Hoeven also backed the decision to require pipeline opponents to leave federal lands north of the Cannonball River. “In light of violent protest activity, the Corps has taken a necessary step to protect public safety. Now, the protesters should respect the law and peacefully leave the protest area,” he said in a statement. “Now, state, local, tribal and federal authorities need to coordinate their efforts to help ensure that the protesters comply and leave.”

Governor Jack Dalrymple responded to the Army Corps’ decision Saturday, saying it will be up to the federal government to enforce the eviction notice. “Our state and local law enforcement agencies continue to do all they can to keep private property and public infrastructure free from unpermitted protest activities, and it’s past time that the federal government provides the law enforcement resources needed to support public safety and to enforce their own order to vacate,” Dalrymple said in a statement.

The Army Corps said Sunday that it “has no plans for forcible removal” of protesters who remain after the December 5th deadline, suggesting that the eviction notice merely serves as hollow political rhetoric. If this is true, it would represent yet another disturbing example of Obama Administration’s complete disregard for the rule of law. It begs the question, why have rules if they aren’t enforced?

U. of Utah Professor: DAPL Protesters Ignore Benefits of Pipeline Infrastructure

Noel de Nevers, a professor emeritus of chemical engineering at the University of Utah, added his voice to the debate over the Dakota Access Pipeline over the weekend, emphasizing the lack of fact-based discussion in an increasingly nationwide dialogue.

Writing in the Salt Lake Tribune, de Nevers pointed to U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s 58-page ruling as clear evidence that the multibillion dollar project should be completed.

“At least in the view of that court, the facts and the law are overwhelmingly contrary to the position advanced by the tribe. In summary, it shows that the pipeline company and the Corps of Engineers bent over backwards to address all the issues raised by the tribe, and that the tribe presents no evidence to support its complaint. The pipeline company followed all its legal requirements to obtain all the necessary permits to construct. The conflict between the tribe and the local law enforcement is taking place on land that is owned by the pipeline, where the pipeline has asked the government to remove trespassers. Anyone who wishes to have an informed opinion on the conflict should read the document.”

Furthermore, de Nevers noted that the benefits of pipeline infrastructure has been largely ignored by protesters and the media.

“None of the parties involved, nor the press, explain the public benefit of the pipeline, which the tribe seeks to prevent from occurring. New oil drilling technology made it possible to produce large amounts of oil from the previously unproductive Bakken Formation, mostly in North Dakota. This new field was not in an area served by oil pipelines (as it would have been if it were in Texas or California). So the new oil was and is transported to the oil refineries by long trains, made only of tank cars. The Dakota Access Pipeline, if completed, will remove about half of the total production from the Bakken Formation from the railroads, placing it in an underground pipeline.”

Click here to read Professor de Nevers full opinion piece in the Salt Lake Tribune.

Local Voices Matter in the Dakota Access Discussion Too

In an opinion piece published in The Hill by Bill Gerhard president of the Iowa State Building and Construction Trades Council and Dawna Leitzke, executive director for the South Dakota Petroleum and Propane Marketers Association, the authors point out that for more than two years many people within the states where Dakota Access is being constructed have actually supported the project.

In the piece Mr. Gerhard and Ms. Leitzke write: “In recent weeks, a growing amount of media attention has been focused on the ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. Reports of trespassing, arson, and attempted murder are deeply troubling. Equally worrisome is the protest’s rapid spreading from North Dakota into South Dakota, Iowa and other states – a trend that promises only to grow unless law and order are restored to the region.  Unfortunately, the voices of those who live in the states where the pipeline is being constructed are not being heard, which is why we’d like to share our perspective.”

We’ve noted the presence of anti-development activists before among the protesters at Standing Rock, and often it’s their activities that the media covers.

Local voices matter too, public support and a need for this project led to the Dakota Access Pipeline’s approval by four separate state utility regulators.

Benefits We Can All Be Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today our thoughts are with the members of the law enforcement community who for months now have been protecting workers and private property in Morton County, North Dakota. Due to the ongoing security situation, many will not be able to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

We’re thankful for their service to our communities.

We’re also thankful for the many economic opportunities that have already stemmed from construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Because of the construction work, thousands of jobs have been created, generating income for thousands of families.

Small businesses including hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, laundromats, etc. all along the route have also benefitted from the influx of people to construct the pipeline, boosting revenues and bringing new opportunities to communities from North Dakota to Illinois.

Today we are thankful, and we are also hopeful. Hopeful that the violent actions towards police in North Dakota will come to an end, and that we will soon see a completed Dakota Access Pipeline.

Pipeline Workers Face Great Risk In Midst of Anti-DAPL Protest

An article in the Billings Gazette, highlights the experience of Cory Bryson, a North Dakotan and business representative for LiUNA Local 563 in Bismarck.

Mr. Bryson recalls sitting in multiple public hearings in North Dakota and notes how the tribe failed to attend any of the PSC meetings.

In fact he also conducted outreach to Chairman Archambault on how to work better with tribes in the future, but the men have yet to meet.

Sadly, the public participation of union members in the permitting process has made them a target for anti-pipeline activists. “A lot of the violence is coming from people who are from out of state bringing their own agendas,” Mr. Bryson said. “protests go from protecting the water to anti-oil, anti-pipeline, anti-fracking and anti-police. Too many groups are involved.” Mr. Bryson also indicated he received threats himself. He’s been followed in his car by vehicles with out-of-state license plates. Once, protesters threatened to burn his family in their home.

These type of scare tactics are not only threatening to the rule of law, but they unfairly target individuals who are providing for their families. Without closure on the issuance of an easement underneath Lake Oahe, it is clear protesters will continue to engage in these deliberately threatening actions, and continue to target American workers.

Hoeven, Cramer, Dalrymple Call on Obama to Approve Pipeline Easement, Support Law Enforcement

In a letter sent on November 23rd  to President Obama, North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, Congressman Kevin Cramer, and Governor Jack Dalrymple called on the White House to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to issue the final easement needed to complete the 1,172-mile Dakota Access Pipeline project and provide federal resources to assist with ongoing protests.

“We call on you again to direct the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) to approve, without further delay, the final federal easement for the Lake Oahe crossing of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Further, in the strongest terms possible, we recommend you provide federal law enforcement resources immediately to state and local agencies in order to maintain public safety, which has been threatened by ongoing – and oftentimes violent – protest activity. These resources are essential to prevent further destruction on and surrounding federal lands.”

North Dakota’s top elected officials went on to highlight that construction of the pipeline is now over 86 percent and has undergone extensive state and federal regulatory reviews over the past two and a half years. Furthermore, they note that two federal courts have ruled in favor of letting the project proceed.

“Twice challenged and twice upheld – including by your own appointees – federal courts found that the Army Corps had followed the appropriate process, the tribe was properly consulted and the project could lawfully proceed. As a former Constitutional law professor you certainly understand there is no legal reason to withhold this easement.”

The letter comes as protesters resort to increasingly dangerous and violent tactics to harm law enforcement officers, trespass on private property, and obstruct construction of the pipeline. President Obama’s decision to “let it play out” my be politically convenient in Washington, but in North Dakota, the administration’s refusal to follow and enforce the rule of law has left entire communities on edge.

Dakota Access Tried Good Neighbor Policies with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe

Based on the escalation in violence at the anti-Dakota Access protests, one would think that Dakota Access offered nothing to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and purposefully targeted their lands.

Far from it in fact.

Not only does the Dakota Access Pipeline not cross Standing Rock reservation land, nor does it cross historical lands signed under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, but Dakota Access actively surveyed the land alongside efforts from the State Historical Preservation Office  for cultural artifacts, and purposefully routed their pipeline alongside an existing pipeline so that there was minimal chance of an encounter with an undocumented archaeological or cultural site.

A Daily Caller article also highlights offers from developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline to install water quality sensors and construction of a fresh water storage facility.

According to a report published earlier in the Washington Examiner, Dakota Access also offered the tribe emergency vehicles in the event the pipeline ruptured. It wasn’t enough. The tribe demanded more.

Despite the claims of protesters, Dakota Access has in fact made good-faith efforts for consultation and respected the sensitivities of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. However, it has become more and more clear as protests have escalated that there never was a Standing Rock negotiating platform, only an attempt to stymie the project.

Feds Offer No Solution In Failure To Remove Protesters and Failure To Assist Law Enforcement

Similar to the approach towards the issuance of a Lake Oahe easement, the Obama Administration has continued its do-nothing strategy with regard to its enforcement of federal law toward protesters and no assistance for local law enforcement.

According to an article in Inside Sources, because the protester encampments are on federal land, state officials cannot evict the protesters, no matter how violent they become. Now, as they wait for a final decision on the pipeline, the state of North Dakota is forced to spend millions to allow the protests to continue.

The result has been confrontations between activists and members of law enforcement attempting to protect private property. Protesters have twice attempted to assault law enforcement across a bridge on 1806 over the Backwater which has required law enforcement to use force to repel the mob.

If this is what President Obama meant when he said he would “let the situation play out,” then inauguration day can’t come soon enough.

North Dakota Security Situation Underscores Importance of Law Enforcement Support

In a spate of protester violence over the weekend, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their environmentalist allies again launched an assault on law enforcement in Morton County in an attempt to illegally occupy private property resulting in a confrontation with police.

Protesters are now mainly located on land south of the Cannon Ball River, but have erected barricades to prevent law enforcement from crossing a bridge over the Backwater which leads to the main protest camps. From there they amassed in an attempt to reach the site where Dakota Access construction equipment and workers are located.

This recent action sadly does not come as a surprise. The fires set by protesters this weekend to inhibit law enforcement activities are not new images.

In light of this rapidly deteriorating security situation the MAIN Coalition is incredulous at the lack of federal response from Washington, who has until today refused aid to North Dakota law enforcement. By delaying the issuance of the necessary easement for Dakota Access to cross Lake Oahe, despite a finding of No Significant Impact by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal government has created an environment where protest escalation and further violence is allowed to flourish. At this late stage, despite a small influx of Customs and Border Patrol agents, without the issuance of an easement, we fear that we can only expect more of the same.