In a heartbreaking story from the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, a woman was found frozen to death in her trailer home that was heated by propane. Her tanks were empty, and according to the Associated Press “officials” are blaming it on the propane shortage:
FORT YATES, N.D. — Authorities are tying the death of a woman on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas to a propane crisis there.
Tribal and Sioux County authorities tell The Bismarck Tribune and KXMB-TV that Debbie Dogskin was found dead on Tuesday morning in a Fort Yates mobile home that had an empty propane tank. The overnight low temperature dropped to about zero that day.
Dogskin was in her early 50s. A cause of death wasn’t announced. The Bureau of Indian Affairs declined comment.
Looking to cash in quickly with some cheap political talking points, the Exeuctive Director of the North Dakota Democrat Party blamed the death on the Republican-controlled state government in Bismarck:
— Chad Oban (@ChadOban) February 5, 2014
That’s spectacularly unfair, of course. This death happened on the reservation, where the State of North Dakota has no jurisdiction. The federal government has increased heating assistance for those on the reservations – Senator Heidi Heitkamp announced it last week – but as far as the state is concerned, the reservations are the jurisdiction of the tribes and the federal government.
But, assuming that this death can be attributed to the propane shortage (and I think the jury is definitely out on that one), this does illustrate America’s dire need for more energy infrastructure. One major contributing factor to the propane shortages in the upper midwest is the inability to ship propane supplies to where they needed. Transport infrastructure, particularly rail infrastructure, is overrun with oil shipments. There isn’t enough infrastructure to go around.
With government obstruction of pipeline projects continuing – not the least of which is the Keystone XL pipeline – this doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.