Irony: Dakota Access Pipeline Is Permitted While Protest Against It Is Not


The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is being represented by an extremist, anti-oil group called Earthjustice in a lawsuit against the Dakota Access Pipeline. There is a federal court hearing in Washington D.C. this week about the lawsuit. I’m sure that the Earthjustice lawyers will blow a great deal of smoke over any indication that Energy Transfer Partners (which owns DAPL) and/or the regulators who approved the pipeline skirted any of the reams of laws and regulations which govern such projects.

As well they should. After all, the law is the law.

So there is no small amount of irony, then, in the fact that the now thousands-strong protest against the pipeline here in rural North Dakota organized by the Standing Rock tribe and the various groups it has allied with is not, itself, strictly legal.

According to this report from Mike Nowatzki, the protesters seem to be trespassing:

In an interview with conservative talk show host Scott Hennen, Dalrymple noted the campsite sits on land owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, whose approval of the pipeline’s river crossings led to the tribe filing a federal lawsuit to stop it. A judge will consider the tribe’s request for a temporary injunction during a hearing Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Dalrymple spokesman Jeff Zent said the governor spoke Monday morning with Jo-Ellen Darcy, who supervises the corps as the assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, discussing the fact the campsite is on corps land and that protesters don’t have a permit.

While Zent said the governor requested no specific action by the corps, Dalrymple told Hennen, “I think they have to step up and take some responsibility, as well.”

Corps spokeswoman Eileen Williamson said the agency is just monitoring the situation and has no action planned.

“At this point, there is not a permit, but it is my understanding they are requesting a permit,” which will undergo a review for issues such as environmental impact, health and safety, she said.

Laws for thee, but not for me.

Again, I’m sure the expectation of the anti-oil activists protesting the pipeline is that Energy Transfer Partners, the federal government, the state government, and law enforcement strictly observe every law and regulation. But they apparently do not feel a need to obey the law themselves.

Meanwhile, despite claims by protest organizers that their activities are peaceful, we continue to get anecdotes illustrating that they are anything but. For instance, a pilot flying over the protest was blinded briefly when someone aimed a laser at his cockpit (protesters have claimed that the planes have been used to jam cellular signals).

A second pilot, thankfully, was able to avoid a laser strike:

…authorities announced they are investigating two incidents of laser strikes aimed at aircraft being used to observe the protest site.

A pilot reported a laser beam hitting him in the eye around 5:15 a.m. last Wednesday, causing him to be blinded temporarily, according to the Morton County Sheriff’s Department.

A second incident occurred about 12:45 a.m. Sunday. In that case, the pilot said he was able to look away in time to avoid the laser, authorities said.

Aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft is a federal violation. Reports have been forwarded to the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

And then there are these frightening statements from a recent arrival to the protest. In talking with Nowatzki about factions which have evolved in the protest movement – including a peaceful protest camp and a camp for the more belligerent-minded – this man seemed to condone life-threatening violence (emphasis mine):

“You have the pacifists and then you have the people who feel something should be done, and they’re camped across the river from each other,” said Jesse Stevens, 32, a member of Wisconsin’s Menominee and Oneida tribes.

Stevens and two other men from Keshena, Wis., left Friday evening and arrived Sunday night, delayed by a broken water pump on his GMC Jimmy. While they set up camp on the “peaceful” side, Stevens said he felt like he should be across the river.

“My point in coming out here was some kind of action, regardless of whether it’s life-threatening or not,” he said. “This is our land, our people.”