Craig Stevens: Further Delays for the Dakota Access Pipeline Aren’t Reasonable

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.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]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. [/mks_pullquote]

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.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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