Business Review Board / Feb. 8, 2017

Dakota Access Unshackled

The economy is free to flow once again.

Who knew a few thousand feet out of more than a thousand miles-worth of oil pipeline could cause such a ruckus? Strangely, that’s what all the angst is about in North Dakota, where indigenous tribes and self-anointed environmentalists from all over the nation rallied together to hijack a project that’s years in the making. There was some welcome news this week, though — the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would remove the former administration’s blockade and give Energy Transfer Partners permission to finish up the project.

Not everyone is happy, though — namely, the hijackers. Indigenous Environmental Network executive director Tom Goldtooth declared, “The granting of an easement, without any environmental review or tribal consultation, is not the end of this fight — it is the new beginning. Expect mass resistance far beyond what Trump has seen so far.” He added, “The granting of this easement goes against protocol, it goes against legal process, it disregards more than 100,000 comments already submitted as part of the not-yet-completed environmental review process — all for the sake of Donald Trump’s billionaire big oil cronies.” But here’s the thing: Energy Transfer Partners didn’t skirt any rules.

As John Sexton explains, “[I]t could be difficult to argue the environmental study is necessary when the decision was so obviously political in the first place. The Army Corps of Engineers recommend the project go forward and were overruled by a political appointee.” And if the outcry is frankly about the environmental impacts, opponents have some soul searching to do.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “A North Dakota Fox affiliate reported this week on the clean-up efforts for the makeshift encampments: Thousands of protesters produced enough garbage to fill an estimated 250 trucks with trash.” But it gets even more hypocritical: “The Army Corps closed the area and said in a press release that grass has been destroyed or removed from some 50 acres. The mess has to be cleared out before a spring flood sends toxic sludge into the nearby Cannonball River and Lake Oahe, the same lake the protesters said would be polluted by the pipeline.” Talk about being your own worst enemy.

Association of Oil Pipe Lines spokesman John Stoody triumphantly responded, “It’s great to see this new administration following through on their promises and letting projects go forward to the benefit of American consumers and workers.” Indeed. Barack Obama sacrificed the unions to the ecofascists. Trump is the opposite — he appeals to unions, and this solidifies that in their minds. This conundrum could eventually create an electoral rift. In the meantime, the economy is free to flow once again.

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