Proponents of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline say the Native American tribe protesting the project isn’t all that hung up on whether the pipeline will use sacred land, and is really just looking for a bigger cut of the revenue.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has claimed that the project has encroached on its land, damaged sacred sites and would potentially harm a major source of their drinking water by going under Lake Oahe.
Sources privy to the discussions say a number of offers had been made to the tribe, including the installation of water quality sensors, construction of a fresh water storage facility to store water in case of a pipeline leak, and other means of ensuring water quality. The developers also offered to create a rapid response team to respond to environmental accidents, including emergency vehicles provided to Standing Rock Tribal members, according to an email from one source involved in the discussions.
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A new column co-authored by Ed Wiederstein, chairman of the MAIN Coalition, and Bill Gerhard, president of the Iowa State Building & Construction Trades Council, makes it abundantly clear that the Dakota Access Pipeline is benefiting the Iowa economy.
“Throughout Iowa work continues on the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and already the long-touted benefits are being felt from Lyon County to Lee County. From the beginning we’ve touted the benefits and supported its construction because of the good it will do for our state — and now, with the project more than three quarters of the way complete in Iowa — we continue to see the many benefits we have extolled over the past two years.”
Wiederstein and Gerhard have been strong advocates for the landmark energy infrastructure project, often citing the thousands of jobs and millions in economic activity it will generate. But now, as evident in communities across Iowa, the case no longer has to be made, the benefits are here and they’re making a difference.
““The 4,000 construction jobs being generated along the 348 miles of pipeline represent a direct cash infusion into local economies in each county along the pipeline route. Recently, the Sioux City Journal wrote, ‘It’s not easy to put an exact dollar amount on the economic impact of the pipeline construction, local leaders say, but it’s not hard to find evidence that those workers are spending money in the area.’”
The influx of pipeline workers has meant restaurants, hotels, convenience stores and laundry facilities remain busy and close to capacity. That’s good news for business owners and the local economy, results that were consistently alluded to throughout 18 open houses across Iowa as well as during the Iowa Utilities Board hearings in November and December of 2015. Iowa stands to benefit from this pipeline from the construction phase through its operation.”
Wiederstein and Gerhard also note that unlike many large infrastructure projects, Dakota Access, despite being a public benefit, comes at no cost to taxpayers. “Large public infrastructure investments often come at a significant cost to state taxpayers, who are left holding the bag when road crews have finished rebuilding bridges or repaving highways,” they wrote. “But private infrastructure investments like the Dakota Access Pipeline do no such thing.”
Click here to read the full column in the Des Moines Register.
Cory Bryson, 32, has known about the Dakota Access Pipeline since 2013. He attended public hearings in 2014, when he spoke with landowners, residents, legal staff and representatives of Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company building the pipeline. He recalls there would be a minimum of 50 people at each meeting — none of whom represented the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
He said they didn’t show up to the hearings in Mandan, Killdeer, Williston and Bismarck or the open house.
Bryson has worked on projects of this size before. He’s been through the process. To Bryson, this was just another ordinary project. Three years later, Bryson told a different story.
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Fifteen percent of the entire Dakota Access Pipeline runs through Illinois, and a company spokeswoman said this week that the construction portion of the project will soon be 100 percent complete in this state.
“Construction in Illinois began in May and is expected to be complete by Dec. 1,” said Dakota Access Pipeline’s Lisa Dillinger. “The four-state project is now 85 percent complete and anticipated to be in service in early 2017.”
Dakota Access traverses approximately 177 miles of Illinois, Dillinger said, including portions of Hancock, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Fayette and Marion counties, where it ends. The $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline also crosses North and South Dakota and Iowa.
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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.
There are presently around 3,000 protesters occupying six camps near where the Dakota Access Pipeline will cross the Missouri River. As the seasons change, some have opted to go home, but others have stayed and are beginning to construct shelters in preparation for winter. It’s a sign that they intend to wait out the winter. According to industry officials, though, the pipeline itself is all but built and continued protest is unlikely to be effective.
“This thing is going to get approved,” said Brigham McCown, former acting administrator of the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The project has already received permits from each of the several states it passes through. All that remains is a final easement of about 540 feet on each side of the river. The Army Corps of Engineers has twice defended its approval process for the section in courts, and the courts have agreed construction should continue. But earlier this week, the Corps announced it wanted to halt construction while doing further analysis.
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The former head of the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials was in North Dakota Wednesday to inspect the Dakota Access pipeline. Brigham McCown said he cannot recall a case where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ever withdrew permits that were validly issued, and he believes the manner of that withdrawal should give everyone pause.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Morton County Commission Cody Schulz pushed back on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to further review the pipeline’s crossing at Lake Oahe, saying the federal agency is endangering everyone involved, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe announced a media event at the Oceti Sakowin camp on Friday. The event is to include tours of the camp and interviews with a variety of celebrities and influencers, as well as 25 of the youth water protectors who met with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama when the two visited the tribe in 2014.
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Having failed to stop the Dakota Access pipeline through both the regulatory process and the federal court system, opponents have resorted to dirty politics.
In their most shameful tactic yet, they are trying to smear the reputation — and end the career — of a decorated Army combat veteran and respected civil servant whose professional decisions they dislike. This must not be allowed to stand.
The now-famous protests against the 1,172-mile pipeline (which is more than 80 percent complete) began last summer when, with no evidence, leaders of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and their political allies sought to delegitimize the pipeline by accusing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of acting illegally and in bad faith.
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For more than three months, thousands of protesters, most of them from out of state, have illegally camped on federal land in Morton County, North Dakota, to oppose the construction of a legally permitted oil pipeline project that is 85 percent complete.
The celebrities, political activists, and anti-oil extremists who are blocking the pipeline’s progress are doing so based on highly charged emotions rather than actual facts on the ground.
This 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline will deliver as many as 570,000 barrels of oil a day from northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to connect to existing pipelines in Illinois. It will do this job far more safely than the current method of transporting it by 750 rail cars a day.
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The Washington Post recently published a supportive opinion editorial from former Senator J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA) and Daryl Owen of Owen Associates which examined how the protest and activity over the Dakota Access pipeline has grown of proportion.
From violent protest activity to millions of dollars of damage to equipment and even disturbing death threats to employees – the tactics being deployed against the project are unseemly and unnecessary.
In the column, Johnston and Owen highlight efforts of sabotage against operational pipelines across the country and the danger that such actions can create. They write that the protests are no longer about opposition to the project, but rather a new tool in the effort to stop the development and use of fossil fuels.
In addition to examining the true nature of the protest and the violence ensuing, Johnston and Owen highlight that, “[t]his is, after all, a pipeline project,” and not simply the first of which would cross the Missouri River – it would be one of dozens that do so carrying American energy products. The final piece of the puzzle, is as they say, “part and parcel of a river-crossing permit the pipeline has already received. It is a simple ministerial action authorizing the pipeline to cross beneath federal lands and, for want of a simple signature by an Army Corps bureaucrat, would finalize the process. By arbitrarily refusing to follow the law, the Justice Department has placed a lawfully permitted, vital $4 billion infrastructure project into suspended animation.”
The authors also note that the tribe who has sought to stall the project “largely refused to engage in [the] consultations” after much inquiry – a fact echoed by a federal court judge who reviewed the Army Corps findings and determinations. Johnston and Owen write that “there is much to be discussed and much to be regretted about the past 150 years of U.S.-tribal relations. But a real estate document for a pipeline river crossing seems hardly the pretext to do so.”
The Administration and Federal Government’s decision to withhold the final piece of multi-billion dollar project, in Owen and Johnston’s own words, it sends “a chilling message to the private sector about the rule of law as it relates to infrastructure development.”
It is simply unacceptable that the Federal Government has continued to delay the completion of this project – after all, their approval was already granted in July of this year. The fact remains, a single 1,000 foot section of an 1100 mile project, is currently held up by opponents who have already stated their mission is far greater than the Dakota Access Pipeline – but simply to withhold the development of America’s energy future.