Symposium 2016: The North Dakota Pipeline has caused controversy on a number of fronts. Those in opposition to the pipeline are protesting the plans to route the pipeline under a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux Indian reservation. Is this protest legitimate? Should construction of the pipeline be shut down or permitted to continue?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent- The protests surrounding the North Dakota Pipeline were legitimate in the sense of the support of the Standing Rock tribe’s efforts to suspend the pipeline project, as the Army Corps of Engineers has now successfully blocked a final piece of the 1,200 mile pipeline, but in the true sense of legitimacy, the tribe had no real reasons for protesting.

Despite years of meticulous checking by pipeline project developers concerning environmental and bureaucratic related regulations, which have affected the pipeline area, those that have opposed the pipeline, most particularly the Obama administration and the Standing Rock tribe made it their goal to shut down the project, which the Army Corps of Engineers recently did. Completion will undoubtedly have to wait until the next administration has assumed office and reinitiated the process.

Once the decision was made by the Army Corps of Engineers to halt the pipeline’s progression, the tribe told the media that the victory was theirs after the years of being finagled by greedy outside interests and uncaring attitudes towards the tribe’s history and welfare. Apparently the decision for disapproval of the pipeline rode heavily on the complaints made by the tribe.  In their protests, the tribe had alleged that the Dakota Access project would trample sites sensitive to their culture as well as taint their drinking water. There was little evidence to support either claim.

During the preliminary research by the Army Corps into any sacred tribal land and water encroachments, the Standing Rock tribe made themselves unavailable and unresponsive to any discussions. A general meeting was planned for November 2015, and five other tribes attended, but Standing Rock failed to appear.

The whole dispute by the tribe centered on a planned crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe.  None of the area has been affected by an already existing gas pipeline (since 1982) and there have been no environmental issues or other problems concerning the area or the tribe.

The Standing Rock tribe and others were given permission by the Army Corps and the project developers to conduct their own surveys in the area in 2016 in order to locate any other cultural sites. Again, the Standing Rock tribe did not participate.  The tribe was even stopped by a federal judge in its attempts to block the pipeline as all protective measures for the area had been taken by the Army Corps and the project developers, but the protests continued.

In the final outcome of surveys by the Dakota Access developers and the Army Corps, 149 potential sensitive sites were found and the pipeline route was modified to avoid 140 of those areas. The other nine were to be covered by a protective plan through the state of North Dakota. The pipeline will be run through a horizontal drilling plan in critical areas, which allows for a trench free installation and minimal disturbance.

With the findings by the project developers and the Army Corps of Engineers, the protest by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was not legitimate and the pipeline installation should have been allowed to continue, but the liberal left made an example and spectacle of the project, particularly when the major portion of the Dakota Access pipeline required no permitting. It was a miniscule percentage of waterways that might be subject to federal approval that kept the project from moving forward.

Dakota Access is another ideological symbol of the left to hold in contempt while others know better. In reality the pipeline is a means of moving a natural resource from one point to another. The Standing Rock tribe will realize the real importance and significance of the pipeline, and their short-lived protests will be countered in the months to come with real substance in the form of energy, jobs and tribal prosperity.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent- I’m a little sick of the attitude that anything the public does that touches the lives of Native Americans is somehow evil or “just another abuse.”  Do you see any other nation on earth that grants so many special privileges to what is in essence a conquered minority within its ranks?  The Europeans who arrived in the New World were better organized, had better medicine and weapons and took the territory that is now the United States by force of arms, when necessary. While this may not be a peacenik’s favorite concept, it’s how nations have been built and destroyed since Thag hit Og with a rock and took his cave.  As long as the pipeline meets EPA standards, build it, and to hell with the protests.

 

Owatonna, NC Correspondent- All protests are legitimate assuming the protesters are sincere in their beliefs. Environmental protests are particularly important in maintaining the public debate about the benefits of fossil fuels in modern society contrasted with the pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. Protests by Native Americans compound the controversy because our country’s policy toward native people has consistently been one of taking land by force, signing treaties and then ignoring them at our convenience, and driving the culture to near-extinction.

While this protest seems to have staying power, and is connected to the climate change debate, it will likely go the way of most protests and eventually fade away. The sad facts are that money rules the country, a large majority of people are unwilling to make lifestyle changes and reduce their use of fossil fuels, and the US government has always used eminent domain laws and policies to either take what it wants or act on behalf of special interests. The pipeline will be built.

And it should be permitted to continue because transporting oil and gas by pipeline has proven to be the safest, cheapest method of transport. Since the Bakken oilfield boom began some years ago, there have been numerous tanker train derailments and trucking accidents involving oil cargos that have caused death and destruction. The North Dakota Pipeline is being built primarily to handle Bakken oil, so it is actually solving a problem of how to move fuel safely.

The Standing Rock Tribe should be applauded for bringing to light the risks of constructing pipelines under bodies of water, mainly drinking water contamination. But the best result they should hope for is a review of pipeline safety procedures and perhaps either a rerouting of the pipeline around the lake or increased safety redundancies such as encasing the pipes inside one or more larger pipes to guard against leaks.

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