Protesters have camped illegally on federal land in North Dakota for more than three months. They are protesting the construction of an oil pipeline that is now nearly complete. The protesters include celebrities, political activists, and anti-oil extremists, and most of them come from out of state. The protesters appear to be ignoring facts about the project and relying only on emotions.
The pipeline is not on tribal property, but the protesters fear it will be too close to the Missouri River, which provides the tribe’s water. Fear is a powerful emotion that usually leads to anger. It causes people to take actions that they would not normally take. People with agendas tend to say and do things that increase fear and anger. It is anger that causes riots and destruction of property as seen at the protest site.
The completed pipeline will run from the Bakken oil fields in northwestern North Dakota and connect to an existing pipeline in Illinois. The 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline will be a safer method to transport oil than transporting it by rail cars as is currently being done.
The Obama administration handed the protesters a victory on Sunday, December 4, 2016, with the announcement that the pipeline – now 85% complete – will be re-routed. Energy Transfer Partners can either find another route or prepare an appeal for the Trump administration.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had adequate opportunities to be part of the planning stage for the pipeline. Instead, they waited to mount a protest until the pipeline was nearly complete. The protesters are supposed to evacuate their camp this week, but Representative Kevin Cramer (R-ND) believes the protest will continue.
The protesters claim that they want to protect the environment. Representative Cramer rejected that idea.
“This oil is being produced today. It’s being moved now. It’s just not being moved by this efficient, safe means of transportation…. So the idea that some of this is about the environment is bogus. This oil is going to be produced. So I just think that many of the arguments against it are ironic at best and hypocritical most likely.”
“This oil is being produced today. It’s being moved now. It’s just not being moved by this efficient, safe means of transportation,” Cramer said. “So the idea that some of this is about the environment is bogus. This oil is going to be produced. So I just think that many of the arguments against it are ironic at best and hypocritical most likely.”
The Congressman said that the protest began as “prayerful, peaceful,” but it “turned into a very violent and aggressive riot in many cases.” “The blending of agitators and out-of-state people with a different agenda than just protection of water for the tribe has created a lot of chaos.”
Where does the truth lie? Is Representative Cramer correct in his assessment of the situation? What is the real agenda for the protesters? Can the pipeline be built in such a way that the tribe’s water source will be protected? Will the protest end now that the government has halted construction of the pipeline?
Only time will give us the answers to these and other questions. One thing we should learn from this experience is to “come to the table” when first invited. All concerned parties should be a part of the discussion and planning from the very start of a project. I believe the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe was wrong to postpone their involvement.