John Andrist: Burns Result From Playing With Fire

I understand that a new airport for Williston is on the way. I’m hoping that those in the runway landing pattern don’t protest that they are in danger.

When a new jail or penitentiary is built some people face a risk, no matter how small, that they could be victimized by a jail break. They could protest. Don’t we already have too many people in jail?

How many of us live in a place where something could go wrong? Probably more than those who live in a place where nothing could go wrong.

The reality is something can go wrong with just about anything — including pipelines. People fall off boats. People die on highways. Airplanes crash. Deer hunters misfire.

As a society all we can do is double down on safety to lessen the risks.

The other day a news release by Reuters revealed that the Standing Rock water supply intake will be near Mobridge, S.D., by the end of this year. The inlet is at least 70 miles from the proposed pipeline crossing. How far is safe?

I learned that fact two or three months ago from Rob Port, a conservative blogger.

Amidst all of the mainstream news flowing from traditional media I have read a thousand times that the pipeline route is “just north of the reservation.” But until the last three days there has been scant reporting about the pipeline the Corps is building to connect the reservation to the Mobridge inlet is 70 miles away.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Protesters drive to their site, they use lights, they set fires, they bring heaters. But they have this dream that they are called to stop the use of fossil fuels. That is their right, to stand up and protest. But that doesn’t give them the right to stand on your feet and mine.[/mks_pullquote]

I would venture there is no place where you can cross a river more than 70 miles from everyone.

Protesters drive to their site, they use lights, they set fires, they bring heaters. But they have this dream that they are called to stop the use of fossil fuels.

That is their right, to stand up and protest. But that doesn’t give them the right to stand on your feet and mine.

We keep playing out this drama and being surprised when someone gets hurt.

Unless somebody finds a way to end it, somebody will. There is a difference between the right of protest and imposing your will on others.

Tradition becomes a casualty

Traditionally the opening days for North Dakota legislate sessions involve important speeches.
On day one they have the governor’s state of the state speech. On day two they hear the chief justice talk about the state of the judiciary.

And on day three it has been time for a state of the Native Americans address. That one includes traditional Native American music and a speech by one of the tribal leaders.

This year, because of the protests that have spilled into the capitol, the last two of those speeches have been cancelled because of security concerns raised by the State Highway Patrol, which is responsible for capitol building security.

We have always prided ourselves that the capitol was so accessible. People could walk in without passing through any security.

They could go anyplace they wanted, even into the committee hearing rooms where they could stand up and express their views about the bill being discussed.

There will likely be additional restrictions this year, a casualty of the protests initiated by Standing Rock tribal leaders.
Interestingly, the last Native American speaker was David Archambault, Standing Rock tribal leader. the man who authored the protest movement.

Call it the end of innocence. It really upsets me that it has come to this. But mostly it just makes me feel sad.

Light at the end of the tunnel

There are early signs of light at the end of the protest tunnel.

Support for ending the standoff is clearly increasing as people learn the facts and the specious activities of many of the protesters. Pressure on President Obama to cease his opposition to the project is also growing.

I can’t speak for the rest of the state, but there has been virtually no in depth coverage by the eastern North Dakota media until lthisl past week. It’s been all about the day-to-day incidents.

The Forum, the state’s largest newspaper has been covertly sympathetic to the protesters, and last week was even critical of the Highway Patrol’s security plan for the state capitol.

In covering the state’s largest news story of the year precious little has been reported about the process followed by the pipeline company and the Army Corp of Engineers, or the huge fiscal impact that the pipeline will have.

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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