MAIN Coalition Statement Regarding Court Ruling, Tribal Consultations

Today, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens released the following statement discussing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to deny the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s injunction request as well as this evening’s tribal listening session in Phoenix, AZ:

There is no reasonable reason for the federal government to continue its delay of the necessary easement to allow for the ultimate completion and operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineers and Dakota Access, LLC, have labored for more than two years, meeting with hundreds – if not thousands – of individuals and groups to plot out the safest, most sensible route for the pipeline.

The 1,172 mile pipeline has been approved by four states and the federal government and has received all necessary permits and easements, except for the mere formality of an easement for approximately 1,100 feet abutting and under Lake Oahe which would parallel an existing natural gas pipeline and which has already been approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

It is nearly 60 percent built and supports more than 8,000 jobs, at a cost of more than $1.6 billion so far.  And, once operational, it will be among the most technologically advanced pipelines in the world.

Now, two courts have agreed that the Army Corps followed the letter of the law: first Judge Boasberg in his initial decision and then the Appellate Court in its order.  Additionally, considering the painstaking review and accommodations that were made on the final pipeline route, we would argue that the Corps and company followed the spirit of the law and the intent of the lawmakers.

We recognize the importance of consulting with all interested parties and applaud the government for holding its meetings with tribal leaders to discuss appropriate processes for future projects.  However, the government cannot reasonably say that any disagreement equates to a veto.  If that becomes the standard then no infrastructure project of consequence will ever again be completed in this country.

Our nation is a nation of laws which includes regulations that were written to facilitate life in a civilized society.  Regulations are intentionally apolitical to allow businesses and individuals to live with certain rules and expectations outside the bounds of political discourse.  If we can no longer rely on the certitude of duly passed and implemented laws and regulations, it could ultimately lead to chaos; or, at the very least, an understandable confusion among American business leaders and citizens as to which laws and regulations are meaningful and which can be ignored.

The last administrative action on the final 1,100 feet of the Dakota Access Pipeline now rests with the Obama Administration.  We hope and expect that they do the right thing: issue the easement for construction under Lake Oahe without further delay.  To do otherwise would undermine our nation’s regulatory regime and chill American infrastructure development, costing Americans their jobs and, ultimately, our nation its progress.

Podcast: Richard Epstein Probes Legal Arguments in Dakota Access Pipeline Debate

Professor Richard Epstein discusses the legal and policy arguments surrounding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline in a newly released podcast.

Epstein, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and NYU law professor, has closely followed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s legal challenge to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

  • Forbes Magazine, 10/3/16, “Finish Construction On Dakota Access Now,” by Richard Epstein
  • Forbes Magazine, 9/14/16, “Why The DOJ Order To Shut Down Construction On The DAPL Pipeline Is Legally Indefensible,” by Richard Epstein

Over the past few months he has offered a number of popular reviews on the court proceedings, including the two above columns that appeared in Forbes Magazine.

Pipeline Worker, Tribal Lawyer Reacts to Appeals Court Decision

A federal appeals court yesterday removed a temporary injunction that halted work on the Dakota Access Pipeline. Construction can now resume in an area between Highway 6 and 1806. Supporters say it’s a step in the right direction while opponents say they’re not backing down from the fight. Ben Smith has the story. Cory Bryson says nearly 400 members of his labor union are working on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
He says they’re excited, and not too surprised at the decision. “It kinda reaffirms with what we’ve known all along that this is a one hundred percent legal project that Dakota Access is pursuing and building, and we’re just excited to be a part of it,” says Bryson, Laborers Local 563

MAIN Coalition Statement on Court Decision

The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled to dissolve its administrative injunction and allow Dakota Access to  move forward with construction up to Lake Oahe. In a statement, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens welcomed the announcement:

We are pleased, but not surprised, by the Court’s decision as this demonstrates that the Army Corps of Engineers did, indeed, meet the requirements required by the law.  As laid out in Judge Boasberg’s opinion, the corps consulted 389 times with 55 tribes including the Standing Rock Sioux. Not only was the letter of the law met, but considering the lengths the corps and Dakota Access, LLC, went, so too was the spirit.

We continue to believe that as long as the ultimate administrative and judicial decisions are based on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law the Dakota Access Pipeline will become operational without additional delay.

Stevens: Politics Trumping Facts on Dakota Access

MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens put facts over fiction in a new opinion piece discussing the political debate surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline. Writing in the Washington Examiner, Stevens discusses how protesters from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have tried and failed stop the landmark infrastructure project under the pretense of false, overwhelming debunked claims.

“In the case of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the opposition believes they are indeed entitled to their own facts despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As they lost on those facts and the law, opponents turned to political allies to stop a project that was duly approved and is nearing completion,” Stevens wrote.

He goes on to note that activists have now resorted to backdoor political meandering to achieve a goal that both the facts and the law have proven wrong.

“Unable to persuade regulators or the courts to stop the pipeline, opponents have turned to friends in high places. This is exactly the sort of insider political trading that so many Americans of all political persuasions are sick of seeing. Americans are losing faith in our political institutions precisely because they think the powerful and well-connected use their influence to bypass procedures the rest of us have to follow.”

Stevens concludes with the sobering reality, that if not stopped, reckless political posturing will have far-reaching consequences.

“A political intervention now will do more than squander $2.5 billion, lay off thousands of workers and block access to an important supply of domestic energy. It will further undermine faith in the American political process at a time when that faith is at historic lows. Surely it would be best to stop the politics and let the proper legal and regulatory processes work.”

Click here to read Stevens’ full opinion piece.

MAIN Coalition Responds to Today’s Oral Arguments at the U.S. Court of Appeals

Today, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Dakota Access. The Court is currently weighing whether or not to grant the Standing Rocks request for a emergency injunction against the pipeline project. Upon the hearing’s conclusion, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement:

“We’re not going to attempt to divine the outcome of today’s hearing, however as Judge Boasberg articulated in his thoughtful and thorough opinion on September 9, the Army Corps of Engineers followed the proper regulatory process in consulting with 55 Native American tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux, 389 times.  Judge Boasberg went on to say in his opinion “that the Corps exceeded its NHPA obligations”.   Even the Appellate Court, today, pointed out the Standing Rock Sioux tribe refused to engage several times with the Corps and Dakota Access, LLC. 

The MAIN Coalition continues to believe as long as the ultimate decision on the Dakota Access Pipeline is determined based on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law it will be allowed to be completed and become operational without delay.”

For more insight on the case, we invite you to check out Forbes contributer and New York University law professor Richard Epstein’s analysis on the legal proceedings.

MAIN Coalition Response to Congressional Letter on DAPL

Even as rhetoric and emotions surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline swell, we have worked to ensure the MAIN Coalition’s language and responses have been fact-based and straightforward.

Having said that, you may have wondered why the MAIN Coalition didn’t have an immediate response to the Congressional letter sent to President Obama yesterday. Honestly, it was because it was so riddled with errors and misinformation that we wanted to make certain our facts were right.

They were.

In addition, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens had the following to say in response to erroneous letter:

It’s unfortunate that some are trying to move this discussion away from the facts: that the Army Corps of Engineers, the four state governments, and Energy Transfer Partners did everything right in the siting, permitting, and ongoing construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Additionally, as context, the current discussion falls on an already-approved portion of the line that runs about 1,000 feet.

To date, the project is nearly 70 percent complete and has supported more than 8,000 jobs, at a cost of over $2.6 billion.  The MAIN Coalition continues to believe that as long as the final Administration and judicial decisions are based on the facts, science, engineering, and the rule of law the Dakota Access Pipeline will be allowed to become operational.

State Archaeologist Finds No Evidence of Cultural Resources at DAPL Worksite

A team of archaeologists from the State Historical Society of North Dakota has found no evidence to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s claim that sites of cultural significance were destroyed by Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) construction activities. A new survey at a work area west of Highway 1806 revealed no human burials or cultural materials, wrote chief archeologist Paul Picha in a September 22 memo obtained by the Say Anything Blog.

State Archaeologist by Rob Port on Scribd

These findings further validate the Historical Society’s original conclusion that no sites of historical or cultural significance will be adversely affected by the pipeline’s carefully determined route. “The State Historic Preservation Office had previously concurred with a cultural resource survey of the pipeline route that found that no significant sites would be affected. As noted by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in a recent ruling, DAPL undertook extensive efforts to avoid sensitive areas, including rerouting the pipeline 140 times in North Dakota alone.

Prior to the survey, skeptics had noted that this particular area along the route had previously been dug up for an existing natural gas line, making the discovery of anything significant highly remote.

MAIN Coalition Statement: Obama Administration Schedules Consultations

On Friday, September 23, the Department of the Interior, Justice Department, and Army Corps of Engineers released a schedule for upcoming consultations with Native American tribes. Following the announcement MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement:

The MAIN Coalition agrees that tribal consultations should continue to play an important role in prospective infrastructure development. With regards to the Dakota Access Pipeline, the official and judicial records show the Army Corps of Engineers and the company held at least 389 consultations with 55 Native American tribes as well as several hundred other consultations with interested individuals, groups, and elected officials throughout the course of the permitting process. In part as a result of those consultations, the final path avoids culturally and environmentally sensitive areas.

The process to approve the Dakota Access Pipeline was done correctly; and these new discussions should not impact, retroactively, any ongoing infrastructure project or any infrastructure project that is currently under review for permitting. To do so would have a chilling effect on private infrastructure development, negatively impact our economy, and cost Americans their jobs.

Should the federal or state governments update their regulations moving forward, they should be transparent, consistent, and reasonable so the regulatory process can ameliorate the concerns of our nation’s various constituencies while not stifling America’s economy.

MAIN Coalition Statement Regarding Recent D.C. Circuit Court Announcement

In response to the recent announcement from the D.C. Circuit Court on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an emergency injunction, MAIN Coalition spokesman Craig Stevens issued the following statement:

We respect the process and appreciate the Court moving as quickly as possible to hear the facts. Judge Boasberg was very clear in his thoughtful and thorough opinion that the Army Corps of Engineers followed the letter of the law by consulting with 55 tribes at least 389 times, as well as hosting hundreds of other consultations with members of local communities across the pipeline’s route. We continue to believe that if the ultimate decision is based on the facts, science, engineering and the rule of law the Dakota Access Pipeline will be completed and become operational.