One of the great ironies of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline – ostensibly to re-route the pipeline but perpetrated in no small part by anti-oil environmental extremists – is that Standing Rock Sioux chairman and #NoDAPL figurehead David Archambault owns a gas station.
A station located quite near the protest camps, as it happens.
Lots of critics of the protests have suggested that they’ve been pretty lucrative for Archambault, what with all those protesters from around the country coming to the area. You know, like these folks:
— Rob Port (@robport) September 10, 2016
But I’ve wondered how true that is. So I set out to quantify the impact with public information, and it turns out the critics are right. At least in terms of fuel sales.
You see, North Dakota’s four Native American reservations have an agreement with the State of North Dakota for collecting taxes on fuel. “Retailers on a reservation with a motor fuel agreement are required to submit an information return reporting fuel purchases from a supplier and sales at the pump so that compliance can be conducted for the proper distribution of proceeds to the tribe,” Kevin Schatz, a CPA in the North Dakota Tax Commissioner’s Office, told me in response to an open records request.
He provided me with fuel sales data for the half dozen fuel stations operating on the Standing Rock reservation which you can see below. This chart shows fuel sales since January 2015 for Hawk’s Corner, formerly known as the Cannon Ball Pit Stop, owned by Chairman Archambault. See if you can spot a trend which might coincide with the anti-oil protests Archambault is helping to lead:
Comparing August and September of 2016 to the same months in 2015, Archambault’s station has seen a more than 170 percent increase in the volume of gasoline/gasohol sales.
September is the last month for which data is available. The October data will be available from the Tax Commissioner’s Office later this month.
Fuel sales at the Prairie Knights Casino, owned by the Standing Rock Tribe, have seen a similar spike. Comparing August and September of 2016 to the same months in 2015, the tribal casino has seen a 39 percent boost in their much larger volume of sales:
Even we look at total gasoline/gasohol sales for all six fuel stations on the Standing Rock reservation – including stations in Selfridge, Fort Yates, Solen, and Cannon Ball – we still see a 26.5 percent increase in fuel sales for August and September of this year compared to the same months the previous year:
I’m happy for these fuel sellers. News of profitable and mutually-beneficial commerce is always happy. But one has to admit that this is an ironic economic impact for a protest movement which has large and outspoken factions who hate capitalism generally and the oil industry specifically.
Here’s the data, which includes sales data for diesel which I didn’t graph.