NORTH DAKOTA - The Dakota Access pipeline controversy is one mainstream news has been covering for months as activists protest in order to shut down the project just as it is nearing completion.
While the pipeline originates in northwestern North Dakota, it eventually passes through twelve Illinois counties, including Hancock, Adams, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan, Macoupin, Montgomery, Bond, Fayette and Marion.
For more than three months, thousands of protesters, most of them from out of state, have illegally camped on federal land in Morton County, North Dakota, to oppose the construction of a legally permitted oil pipeline project that is 85 percent complete.
The celebrities, political activists, and anti-oil extremists who are blocking the pipeline’s progress are doing so based on highly charged emotions rather than actual facts on the ground.
This 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline will deliver as many as 570,000 barrels of oil a day from northwestern North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to connect to existing pipelines in Illinois. It will do this job far more safely than the current method of transporting it by 750 rail cars a day.
The protesters say they object to the pipeline’s being close to the water intake of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. However, this should be of no concern as it will sit approximately 92 feet below the riverbed, with increased pipe thickness and control valves at both ends of the crossing to reduce the risk of an incident, which is already low.
Despite reports to the contrary, Rep. Cramer says the affected Sioux nation has been consulted throughout the planning stages, nearly 400 times. The planners and builders have been very cautious and conscious of the Native American needs, but the opposition forces have hyped up their protests over the past few months.
Though these protesters claim to be gathered for peaceful prayer and meditation, law enforcement has been forced to arrest more than 400 in response to several unlawful incidents, including trespassing on and damaging private land, chaining themselves to equipment, burning tires and fields, damaging cars and a bridge, harassing residents of nearby farms and ranches, and killing and butchering livestock. There was even at least one reportedincident where gun shots were fired at police.
The recent vandalization of graves in a Bismarck cemetery and the unconscionable graffiti marking on the North Dakota column at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., are examples of how the protesters’ actions do not match their claims of peaceful demonstration.
Equally disturbing is the meddling by the Obama administration in trying to block this legally permitted project through executive policymaking. This has encouraged more civil disobedience, threatened the safety of local residents, and placed an onerous financial burden on local law enforcement—with no offer of federal reimbursement for these increasing costs.
Still, the pipeline will contribute to making America more energy independent - and more self-sufficient tapping the natural gas and moving it via pipeline to a central Illinois site in Patoka.
The simple fact is that our nation will continue to produce and consume oil, and pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport it. Legally permitted infrastructure projects must be allowed to proceed without threat of improper governmental meddling.
The rule of law matters. We cannot allow lawless mobs to obstruct projects that have met all legal requirements to proceed.
More from Rep. Cramer on the Dakota Access pipeline HERE.