In a letter addressed to President Obama, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) along with 21 other Democratic members of the House of Representatives again presented another argument riddled with misinformation and emotion rather than the on-the-ground facts concerning the ongoing Dakota Access Pipeline protests.
The most important point in this letter to once again debunk is that at no point does this pipeline cross Standing Rock Sioux land. Period.
The current route not only parallels an existing pipeline, The Northern Border Pipeline, as well as an electrical transmission line, but the route was specifically selected because the area had already been surveyed for cultural and archaeological artifacts. Thus the land Dakota Access will run underneath has already been excavated, at least twice, leaving little chance of an encounter with an unknown site. Additionally, the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office found that no articles or items of cultural significance were within the pipeline construction corridor.
But importantly, the protests have not been peaceful at all. In fact, protesters have engaged in a myriad of violent and illegal activities. They have set fires, slaughtered livestock, fired at gun at law enforcement officers, burned a bridge, terrorized journalists, and repeatedly trespassed on private property. All the while the federal government has refused aid to North Dakota law enforcement, forcing state resources to provide adequate protection for themselves and for private property. What has been construed as “militarism” is in reality defending the lives of union workers and residents of Morton County.
The federal response to the actions of the protesters has been disappointing. Following an extensive and thorough two year review, including analysis by the state of North Dakota as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, political decision makers have forced the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to delay the final easement approval following the onset of illegal protest activity. Though the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had the opportunity to voice their comments and concerns during the regulatory processes in North Dakota, South Dakota, and throughout the public review and comment process for the Corps, they failed to do so, and are now holding up a legally permitted infrastructure project.
Everyone has a right to peaceful assembly, and to freely speak their mind. But the actions in Morton County have far exceeded any reasonable litmus test for what constitutes free speech. The Federal Government’s inaction continues to create and foster an environment that is hostile and unfair to local community members and law enforcement officers who call the area home.