A letter sent by Oregon Senators Wyden and Merkley, addressed to President Obama regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline, show just how out of touch these members appear to be with the realities of the permitting and planning process for energy infrastructure projects, and with the on the ground realities of the brutal and illegal actions of anti-pipeline protesters.
To summarize; the letter from Senators Wyden and Merkley argues that the planning process for the project had “three major shortcomings.” The first there was inadequate consultations with the SRST “on the impacts to their historic and cultural land;” second, the Corps utilized an inappropriate permitting process; and third, there was a failure to conduct environmental review. The letter also notes that the concerns with the Nationwide Permit 12 process and argues that because of the pre-approval process in the NWP 12, that there was no public notice or comment period for the overall project or an EIS. The letter also states, in their opinion, that the environmental review was not thorough enough and that concerns from EPA, DOI, and ACHP were disregarded. Finally, it notes the right of the protesters to “peacefully protest,” and does not include mention of the actions by the protesters but rather the “militarized police response.”
Today the word of the year was announced, false-truth.
We can think of nothing better to describe the gross inaccuracies described by this letter to the President. Once again we see a pattern of ignored realities.
Dakota Access, as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted hundreds of outreach meetings and consultations with Native American tribes, many of which the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe simply refused to participate in. The State of North Dakota also held three separate public input hearings that were well publicized throughout the state that the tribe did not participate in.
Regardless of the Senators concerns with the Nationwide 12 permitting process, the entirely legal process was followed by the various federal agencies who have oversight of the permitting process. Following the issuance of an finding of no significant impact in an over 1,200 page environmental assessment studied over two years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project was permitted to move forward on federal lands. That decision was upheld by the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia as well as the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senators might have their own opinions, but these are not the basis of federal law. Political opinions, like those of the Senators of members of the Obama Administration, should remain just that, while federal laws should be followed according to the letter of the law; including the permits released under Nationwide 12.
Finally, once again we see Washington politicians rejecting the overwhelming evidence of violent acts towards members of the law enforcement community, who have pleaded for federal assistance. Instead, the Senators decided to side with protesters who have already committed the following illegal acts: set fires, slaughtered livestock, fired at gun at law enforcement officers, burned a bridge, terrorized journalists, and repeatedly trespassed on private property.