Tribe Protesting Dakota Access Pipeline Didn’t Bother to Show up to Regulatory Hearings


The number of Dakota Access Pipeline protestors near Cannon Ball, N.D., grew Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, with the arrival of busloads and several vehicles from South Dakota's Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been hosting a (not at all peaceful) protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers in south central North Dakota.

To hear the protesters tell it the pipeline is an existential threat to the tribal community. “The Dakota Access Pipeline project is harmful. It will not just be harmful to my people but its intent and construction will harm the water of the Missouri River,” David Archambault (who was arrested after pushing police during a protest). He’s also referred to the pipeline as “a black poisonous snake trying to come among us.”

Those are some strong sentiments, but curious in light of the fact that neither Archambault nor a representative of his tribe bothered to attend any of the regulatory hearings reviewing the pipeline project before it was approved by the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

That startling fact was revealed by Commissioner Brian Kalk in comments about the protests to the Bismarck Tribune:

Dakota Access began work on the nearly $3.8 billion project this spring following permit approval by the PSC and regulators in other states along the route. The pipeline is to begin in western North Dakota near Stanley and end near Patoka, Ill. It would transport as many as 450,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude when finished this year with a future capacity of 570,000 barrels per day.

“They have a right to build this project,” said Fedorchak, adding that the company went through the permitting process and was granted approval.

Commissioner Brian Kalk agreed.

“These groups didn’t come to our hearings,” said Kalk, expressing disappointment that tribal leaders didn’t appear at that time to voice their concerns.

If the pipeline, the construction of which has been plagued by arson and other acts of vandalism in other states, is truly a threat to the Standing Rock community then why didn’t they show up at the public hearings held before the pipeline was approved?

You almost get the idea that these protests are a bit of a put-on. Phony baloney outrage fomented by extremist environmental groups less concerned about the safety of the pipeline, specifically, than in doing whatever it takes to obstruct oil development generally.

On a related note, anyone finding it ironic that the Standing Rock tribe is protesting infrastructure which would be of great benefit to the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation? Home to roughly a third or so of North Dakota’s daily oil output?

That tribe seems at peace with the pipeline, having reached an easement agreement with Energy Transfer Partners (the folks building the pipeline) some time ago. It’s worth noting that while the Dakota Access line does cross the Fort Berthold reservation, no part of it will be built on the Standing Rock reservation.