Regulator: Standing Rock Sioux Absent During Dakota Access Review

North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak recently confirmed that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe failed to participate in the state’s 13-month review of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Speaking with NPR’s Morning Edition, Fedorchak noted that tribal representatives never attended any of the PSC’s public hearings despite personal outreach urging them to weigh in.

“The Standing Rock tribe did not participate in our public hearings or, quite honestly, at any point throughout our 13-month review process,” she said. “Here’s the situation, though, we notified the tribes. We had a personal call go out to the tribes urging them to participate, and we had a hearing 45 minutes from Cannonball.”

Fedorchak further noted that, despite the tribe’s absence, hundreds of others did engage in the process. When asked about the agency’s review of cultural resources, Fedorchak stressed that the entire route was carefully examined by certified archaeologists.

“The entire route of the pipeline was examined on foot by certified archaeologists. They identified more than 500 different cultural resources that needed to be protected, and the pipeline route was altered 140 times to avoid cultural resources. So those include Native American resources, but they also include other historic artifacts.”

Meanwhile, Fedorchak has also refuted claims that the pipeline was originally supposed to cross the Missouri River north of Bismarck and not beneath Lake Oahe.

“The river crossing north of Bismarck was a proposed alternative considered by the [Dakota Access] company early in the routing process. This route was never included in the proposed route submitted to the PSC and therefore was never vetted or considered by us during our permitting process,” she said in an Oct. 27th statement. “The final permitted route follows an existing pipeline corridor that has been previously disturbed.”

Forum Editorial: Pipeline Protest is Failing

The difference between a peaceful protest and criminal activity is obvious to honest observers. The problem with the Dakota Access Pipeline protest near Cannon Ball, N.D., is that honesty is in short supply. Or better yet, the definitions of “honesty,” as defined by the people caught up in the protest, are not the same.

Those realities will not be solved soon because they are rooted in historical imperatives that have been in conflict for generations. The stain of the nation’s treatment of American Indians and the conditions—some self-inflicted—in which native communities find themselves in the 21st century will not be resolved at an oil pipeline protest. Indeed, they are being exacerbated.

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Bismarck Tribune Editorial Supports Law Enforcement Actions

In an editorial published today, the Bismarck Tribune supported the actions of law enforcement to remove protesters from private land, and to clear a roadblock from a public highway. According to the paper, “there were obvious violations of the law.”

The paper also correctly characterized the operation to remove protesters following their failure to comply with police orders to withdraw from private property; “To the outside world it may have appeared like a military operation, but law enforcement needed to protect themselves. Overall, the operation went smoothly with no serious injuries. It’s unfortunate the situation came to this, but some of the protesters refused to back off.”

This has been the case for several months now in North Dakota. Protesters have encouraged law enforcement to arrest them by failing to comply with instructions to come down off of equipment, to not cross fence lines onto private property, and to maintain a safe distance from public roads. Protesters often have failed to comply and put public safety and the safety of workers in jeopardy which has led to arrests. To then claim that they have been treated unfairly is a gross mischaracterization of police operations, which have taken place only to ensure the rule of law and public safety.

Physical resistance to law enforcement is mounting, and it has begun to divide the protest camps according to the Tribune, “There seems to be some discontent in the camps with dissatisfaction growing over the more militant factions. Some would like to see them evicted. Part of the problem is the reluctance of the protesters to admit to any wrong. They don’t want to concede that law enforcement encountered resistance, not just verbal but physical. During Thursday’s removal of protesters, Tribune video captured protesters arguing over tactics. One was trying to put out a fire while encouraging others to retreat. Another urged protesters to stand their ground and force the issue. He wasn’t seeking a prayerful response.”

Law enforcement has put themselves on the front lines to protect the community, and to ensure the safety of the public amid the increasingly violent protests. It is encouraging to see media like the Bismarck Tribune come out in defense of law enforcement, when so many other outlets appear only to be interested in telling the story from the side of protesters who continue to mischaracterize their own actions as peaceful, when they have only incited violence and lawlessness.

Native Americans Condemn the Dakota Pipeline, the Law Doesn’t

To hear environmental activists tell it, the Dakota Access Pipeline Project has run roughshod over Native American rights, heritage — and objections. But to hear the federal judge presiding over the case tell it, the company building the pipeline and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been both diligent and respectful in their efforts to address Native American concerns. I’m with the judge on this one.

Questions Arise Over Standing Rock Protesters’ Use of Funds

In North Dakota, winter is coming. This has been a reason to push for more funding for the 700-some protesters remaining at the Standing Rock Reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The group, which first gathered in April to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, is increasing its calls for aid as the weather gets colder. The calls for supplies come even after the group has received millions of dollars of donations online, as well as donated supplies from a variety of groups.

Workers Lose If Pipeline Protesters Get Their Way

According to your article, the anti pipeline protesters camping out in North Dakota seem to be having a great time [What’s next for anti-pipeline camp? Oct. 16] Free food and shelter in a Woodstock-like environment, with their parents probably paying their way. We need to get some bands up there like the Grateful Dead, along with a large cargo container of free condoms. There must be a taxpayer-funded program for that. Continue reading…

PSC Commissioner: Permitting Process Validated By Court Ruling

North Dakota Public Service Commission chairwomen Julie Fedorchak weighed in on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s legal challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline during an interview with Bismarck NBC affiliate KFYR-TV.

Fedorchak, who oversaw the state’s 13 month review of the project, said she feels the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to deny an injunction further validates the permitting process.

On the protests, Fedorchak said that many of the concerns expressed by Standing Rock have been addressed and urged activists to pack up their camp on the banks of Lake Oahe.

“These protests have run their course, they made their point. A lot of the issues that they’re concerned about have been addressed and dealt with. And that, that these protesters should pull up their camp and move on and let law enforcement and the school children in that area and the businesses in that area and everyone in that area go back to life as normal,” said Fedorchak.

Fedorchak’s comments echo those of many others in recent weeks, including U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg who noted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extensive efforts to accommodate tribal concerns.