Army Corps Gives #NoDAPL Protesters a Heckler’s Veto


As part of the Obama administration’s blockade of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has asked the company to cease construction in a 20 mile zone on either side of Lake Oahe. The easement for crossing that reservoir along the Missouri River is what the Obama administration is currently withholding, despite the Corps previously recommending that it be issued.

It’s a little silly to think that the federal government should get a say in what the pipeline company does on private land. The company has negotiated easements on those land, and secured the proper regulatory permits, and if they want to push ahead with construction there that’s their prerogative.

More troubling, though, than the Corps’ call for a voluntary work stop is their reasoning behind it. They identify the unlawful and often violent #NoDAPL protests as the reason:

“We are concerned over recent statements from DAPL regarding our request to voluntarily stop work, which are intended to diffuse tensions surrounding their operations near Corps-managed federal land until we have a clear path forward,” said Col. John W. Henderson, commander of the Omaha district, in a statement released late Wednesday.

The Army Corps asked Dakota Access on Nov. 4 to voluntarily stop construction for 30 days to allow for tensions to de-escalate, Henderson said.

This sounds a bit like asking a woman not to dress sexy so she doesn’t get raped.

It’s farcical to the point of being insulting.

If the anti-pipeline, anti-oil extremists react to lawful, permitted construction with violent rioting that is not the fault of the pipeline company. It is incumbent upon the protesters to behave themselves.

To say otherwise is to give the protesters the very thing they want, which is a sort of heckler’s veto. The Corps asking the pipeline company to stop construction so that protesters will calm down tells the protesters that they can get their way if they burn enough cars and throw enough bombs.

If the Corps really wants to help calm this situation down they could evict the extremists who have set up camp on Corps land without permit. But I suspect the Obama administration, which seems to prefer to let North Dakota burn, will not let them.