This week the governors of three states which the much-protested Dakota Access Pipeline passes through sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urging them to let construction go forward.
The federal courts have backed the pipeline against legal challenges filed by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental groups, but the Obama administration has engaged in some political obstruction, asking the Corps to withhold an easement for crossing under the Lake Oahe reservoir.
The letter – signed by Governors Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota, Terry Branstad of Iowa, and Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota – says the easement should be issued.
“Further delay in issuing the easement will negatively impact our states and our citizens,” the governors write.
In a nutshell, what the governors are telling the federal government is don’t move the goalposts.
The pipeline was approved through a lengthy and exacting process which the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was invited to participate in but largely did not. It is not fair to roadblock billions of dollars worth of critical energy infrastructure for some ex post facto requirements to engage with a tribe that didn’t want to engage before.
If there is a better way to engage with the tribes on this sort of project going forward then we should, by all means, have that debate. But applying some new standard to a pipeline that’s most of the way completed is ridiculous.
All the more so when one suspects the motivations have less to do with the process through which the pipeline was approved than the Obama administration’s hostility to pipelines generally.
Here’s the full letter: