Craig Stevens: Losing in the Public Mind, Eco-Activists Stoop to Dangerous Lows


American communities improve as infrastructure projects move forward across the country. Delta Airlines’ investment in LaGuardia airport, Microsoft’s push to bring high speed internet to every American, and the City of Detroit’s modernization of I-94 have brought thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to local communities. Investment in infrastructure is an investment in Americans, and an increased focus on improving our transportation and energy infrastructure serves to help the nation as a whole.

The Trump administration has widely proclaimed its intention of removing bureaucratic obstacles in the way of infrastructure projects. This week, the President even signed an executive order to accelerate the permitting process for infrastructure projects. With current waits often taking decades to get permits approved, President Trump’s executive order aims for a two-year goal to complete the permit approval process. This will pave the way for countless infrastructure projects that have been in the backlog to finally come to fruition. Plus, with two Congressional confirmations establishing a quorum on the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee, President Trump now has the resources to fully deliver on his pledge to unlock America’s energy potential.

These successes have come at the chagrin of radicals on the fringe of the environmental community. Not to go down without a fight, these activists have stooped to new lows to fulfill their self-convinced beliefs about the perils of traditional energy. Last month two women staged a press conference to admit their actions in sabotage of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a $3.8 billion project to transport affordable, American-produced natural gas to consumer markets.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Unable to derail the Dakota Access Pipeline through smear campaigns, and unwilling to come to the table for constructive debate, these women attempted to stack the deck by vandalizing the project.[/mks_pullquote]

Unable to derail the Dakota Access Pipeline through smear campaigns, and unwilling to come to the table for constructive debate, these women attempted to stack the deck by vandalizing the project. With little or no regard for the very real dangers posed to local communities, they openly bragged about cutting holes in exposed sections of pipe and burning safety valves critical to safe operations. Their actions should be called for what they are: eco-terrorism.

Sadly, such violent tactics are hardly new. The crimes admitted last month mirror a pattern of destruction that quickly became a hallmark of protests along the Dakota Access Pipeline. During the months-long sit-in, activists attacked and hospitalized law enforcement officers. They looted surrounding farms and ranches, killing livestock. When the smoke finally cleared, nearly 50 million pounds of waste lay in their wake.

Simply put, there is no room for these kinds of subversive actions. The Dakota Access Pipeline was vetted thoroughly by federal, state and municipal authorities. The project received full permitting, which multiple courts decisions reiterated. Private leaders and public regulators involved in the development deserve a great deal of gratitude for their diligence and partnership. Their work will help develop best practices for future projects and create a better framework for continued infrastructure expansion.

It is impossible to reconcile eco-radicals’ destructive tactics with the banner of environmental stewardship they allege to perpetrate them under. Pipelines are the most reliable form of energy transportation, with a success rate of 99.999 percent. They provide dependable access to emerging production areas, helping to fuel American business and reduce energy costs for consumers.

By standing in the way of infrastructure development and shamelessly destabilizing operations, activists are standing against American workers. They are opposing U.S. business and continued economic growth. The Dakota Access Pipeline alone created 12,000 good jobs for skilled laborers and increased demand for goods and services throughout local communities. There are many similar projects now underway across the Midwest that are generating tax revenue, career opportunities and economic activity. They should not suffer the same subversion imposed on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Americans are hungry for affordable, clean energy produced here at home. They made that clear in their election of President Trump, who won Iowa by nearly 10 points. While it may not sit well with camps at the extreme of the environmental community, there should be no tolerance for the destructive appetites that put Americans and local lands and water at risk. It’s time all parties engage in constructive debate so we can make the violence that beset the Dakota Access Pipeline an ugly page in the annuls of history.