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.

Officials Raise Concerns for Children at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Mandan, N.D. — This fall, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at the Sacred Stones Camp in North Dakota proudly highlighted the Defenders of the Water School as a camp success story. By October, they had changed their tune. In a letter addressed to tribal chairman Dave Archambault II, the North Dakota State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler informed the group that the makeshift school did not meet the standards of the state of North Dakota.

She requested that students attend schools in the nearest district, then Mandan, until the school completes the state’s approval process. Now, a month later, the issue has stalled, leaving the educational status of the children in the camp uncertain.

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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.

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.

Dakota Access Delays Threaten the Future of Infrastructure

The 2016 election will go down in history as one of the more toxic and divisive in modern American history. Yet it is worth considering at least one issue that received near universal support from both candidates: the need to invest in infrastructure.

Political leadership has long viewed infrastructure investments by the private sector as the backbone of the U.S. economy. Politicians praise transportation, telecom, water, and energy infrastructure as the very lifeblood of our economy, seamlessly moving the supplies, energy, and information to where it is needed. As Donald Trump himself stated moments after winning the presidential election, “We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”

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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.

Presidential Miscues On The Dakota Access Pipeline

Right now a major energy and environmental fiasco is playing out over the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). This 1172-mile pipeline, when completed, will move 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the production fields in the Bakken and Three Forks regions of North Dakota to refineries and terminals located in Patoka, Ill.

Originally, the case was a legal dispute which pitted the company building the pipeline and the Army Corps of Engineers against the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) over the narrow, but important, legal question of whether the Army Corps and Dakota Access had complied with the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which required them to consult with the tribes before a permit could be issued.

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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.