In a new editorial, Agweek Magazine, a leading agricultural publication in the upper Midwest, captured many of the frustrations shared by farmers and ranchers affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The thoughtful commentary is careful not to dismiss those who have peacefully opposed the project, but notes that many actions have been anything but peaceful.
We understand many Americans disapprove of the project. We support their legal and moral right to oppose it through peaceful, legal protest. We live, thank goodness, in a free country. But many of the protests were neither peaceful nor legal.
The editorial goes on to highlight that farmers and ranchers in Morton County have been on the frontlines of the unlawful activity and have suffered financially as a result.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture say 544 Morton County households were affected by the protests. They say farmers and ranchers lost as much as $20,000 each due to delays in or inability to harvest crops, inability to haul to market, inability to get custom harvesters to the area, lost or missing livestock, cattle brought off pasture earlier than usual, vandalized equipment and farmsteads and other issues. There also are continuing problems with possible pest-infested firewood, as well as hundreds of loads of garbage left behind when the camp was cleared out.
Out-of-state protesters who descended on this rural community often did so with a complete lack of respect for area residents who wanted nothing but to continue about their normal lives.
This much is clear: Protestors, even sincere ones, often went too far, hurting “ordinary” North Dakotans who had done absolutely nothing wrong. That alienated and angered many people who had been neutral or lukewarm on the project.
In closing, the editorial board said environmental protesters would be wise to respect agriculturalists in the future before offering an optimistic outlook for the coming change of season.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum recently joined Morton County Commissioners Cody Schulz and Bruce Strinden, as well as Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier for a meeting with area residents affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In a statement, the Morton County Board of Commissioners said more than 50 farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners attended the gathering to share their experiences and concerns about the future. Attendees’ spoke of vandalized equipment, missing livestock, trespassing, as well as the stress placed upon families from numerous school lockdowns stemming from protest activities.
“I was very pleased and encouraged by the meeting,” said Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz in a statement. “The discussion was very honest and frank. People are frustrated, and in some cases scared, but I am just so thankful that people took the time to attend. I’m also grateful to the Governor for taking the time to truly hear the concerns of Morton County residents.”
Going forward, landowners said they remain worried about their safety and the process for holding those responsible for unlawful activity accountable.
“I’m glad I got to hear some of the specific concerns of the farmers and ranchers,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We will continue to do everything necessary to keep our citizens safe. Public safety has been my top priority from the very beginning, and it will continue to be.”
Unfortunately, pipeline opponents continue to engage in illegal activities that have resulted in numerous arrests. Most recently, protesters attempted to trespass onto private property before destroying private property and endangering law enforcement personnel stationed on the Backwater Bridge.
After being immersed in more than three months of protests and riots over the Dakota Access Pipeline in Morton County, N.D., I feel compelled to share a few general observations.
First, and most aggravating, the reasoning and stated positions of the protesters seem to have little to do with the citizens of Morton County, or even the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Perhaps they simply did no research, or chose to ignore the facts surrounding the pipeline.
But 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.
The Dakota War College, a South Dakota political news site, published a piece that highlighted the disintegration of law and order in Morton County, North Dakota during the ongoing protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The “Spirit Camp” at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannon Ball Rivers has become a site of lawlessness and opposition to all forms of authority as protestors continue to engage police, shut down highways, threaten aircraft, vandalize public services, and illegally occupy private land.
The posts also highlights the influence of environmental groups who have allied themselves with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as part of a broader campaign to stop the development of important energy infrastructure. According to the post, one of those groups, EarthJustice, who is now suing the United States Army Corps of Engineers for their approval of the construction permit at the Lake Oahe crossing, also made no attempt to participate in the public process including three public hearings held by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.