North Dakota Governor: DAPL Likely to Get Easement Once Trump Is President

By Lorraine Chow, a reporter for EcoWatch. Follow her on Twitter: @lorrainelchow. Originally published at EcoWatch

Even though the U.S. Army Corp and the Obama Administration denied a key easementneeded to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) last month, the struggle against the controversial pipeline is far from over.

North Dakota’s new Republican Gov. Doug Burgum has reaffirmed his favor of the project, telling Reuters that he is confident that the pipeline will be approved by Donald Trumpwhen he comes into the White House.

“I expect the world’s going to change dramatically on that day relative to finding resolution on this issue,” Burgum said. “I would expect that (Energy Transfer Partners, DAPL’s parent company) will get its easement and it will go through.”

The president-elect formally announced his support for the completion of the DAPL last month. His transition team noted that his support for the pipeline “had nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans.”

Burgum has requested that the demonstrators clean up the protest camps near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation before spring floods from rain and melting snow create a “potential ecological disaster.”

According to Reuters, more than 300 vehicles, along with dozens of temporary dwellings and other detritus, have been abandoned at the encampment, with at least one campsite sitting on a flood plain.

Water Protectors camping near the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site.Dark Sevier/Flickr

“The amount of cleanup that needs to take place is enormous,” Burgum said. “We’ve got a potential ecological disaster if this land floods and all the debris flows downstream into tribal lands.”

About 700 to 1,000 pipeline protesters remain at the Oceti Sakowin camp even though Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II’s has requested them to leave due to the harsh winter conditions. The chairman said the pipeline fight will continue in court.

Burgum, a former tech executive who won the governors race with nearly 77 percent of the vote, took office last month as tensions mounted between DAPL protesters and law enforcement officials surrounding the $3.8 billion oil project. In November, police used items such as tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in freezing temperatures.

The protests have been ongoing since last spring. The Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters say the 1,100-mile pipeline, which crosses the Missouri River and sacred sites, threatens their access to clean water and violates Native American treaty rights.

Proponents of the DAPL, which is expected to transport 470,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day, say the pipeline is the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport the fuel.

The Army Corps announced on Dec. 4 that it will not provide the necessary easement and recommended an environmental impact statement (EIS) considering the Tribe’s treaty rights and route alternatives to the Lake Oahe crossing.

But in a video message released just 24 hours after taking office, Burgum criticized the Obama Administration for “politically [stalling] a legally permitted project that had already been through an exhaustive review process and has twice been upheld by the federal courts.

“I support the legal completion of this pipeline. Make no mistake, this infrastructure is good for our economy. And it’s the safest way to transport North Dakota products. Failure to finish it would send a chilling signal to those in any industry who wish invest in our state and play by the rules.”

Dakota Access is adamant about completing the pipeline. The company has filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps claiming it had all the permits and permissions it required in order to complete a critical crossing at Lake Oahe.

In response, both the Army Corps and the Standing Rock Sioux filed a motion with the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC, on Friday asking the judge to throw out the company’s lawsuit.

The Army Corps states in its brief to the court that the company’s claim should be dismissed, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

“There is no signed document conveying to Dakota Access an easement to construct a pipeline under Corps-managed land. The army is still considering (the) easement application,” the Army Corps told Federal Judge James Boasberg.

The tribe’s attorney, Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, said that Dakota Access created its own mess.

“Its own choices—including building a significant portion of the pipeline before it had any permits and refusing to voluntarily cease construction in the disputed area around Lake Oahe, as the government repeatedly requested—are responsible for its current predicament,” Hasselman said.

press release from the Standing Rock Sioux also states that the Army Corps has not, and could not have, issued the easement yet. It further adds that the Army Corps’ decision to provide a full EIS on route alternatives for the pipeline was legally required and appropriate “in light of the history of the Sioux.”

“DAPL’s lawsuit is a desperate attempt to bully the government into getting the easement and violating Standing Rock’s rights,” Archambault said. “It will not succeed. We look forward to working with the Corps on an EIS that fully takes into account our history and our rights, and are confident that the easement at Lake Oahe will ultimately be denied.”

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  1. Altandmain

    The tragedy is that this will likely show Trump’s dark authoritarian side.

    Looking back, I don’t like Clinton and feel that she would have been an absolutely terrible president. Worse, she might have gotten the US into a war with Russia that could have turned nuclear. However, that in no way makes me condone Trump.

    If you consider this pipeline and the implications for Native rights, there’s a lot that is wrong. There could be an accident and the inhabitants would suffer disproportionately. Even without one though, this is their land and this amounts to a grab. Worse, their water supply is at risk.

    Oh, and a lot of the DAPL fossil fuels will be exported. So this is not necessarily about promoting energy independence as much as it as about corporate profit, which should surprise nobody here.

    I think we will see more of this in the next 4 years. Basically the US was screwed when Bernie lost …. or more accurately was sabotaged. They literally took the presidency out of Sanders’ hands and gave it to Trump. A lot of Sanders voters went for Trump because they were denied a populism from the left.

    1. jgordon

      Yes, we had a choice between herpes and HIV this election cycle. Luckily we got herpes. Elections have consequences, and this is one of the downers we were going to get with Trump.

      That said, I don’t think having an authoritarian president would be all that bad. There are clearly a large number of people in America who need to be toughened up and have some sense knocked into them, and an iron fisted dictator can help them with that.

      Therefore I have a somewhat positive impression of Trump, despite knowing how vile a lot of his domestic policies will be. Trump is the giant enema that America needs roght now. Take it good and learn your lesson America, or the next ashole to come along will be way worse.

      1. ambrit

        Much as I endorse the basic thought underlying your comment, I fear that this “enema” will be another, s–ttier version of the “trickle down” theory.
        Trying to find the “silver lining” to this all, I’m tempted to say that this might be the “destructive testing” phase of the Neoliberal Theory. With Trump, we might hit rock bottom without a nuclear holocaust and then have nowhere else to go but up. I just hope that this doesn’t end up a macro example of the Peter Principle.

      2. Anonymous

        I have never replied on nakedcapitalism before, and have always found the comments on this site to be well thought out. But this takes the cake. “I don’t think having an authoritarian president would be all that bad.”

      3. Vatch

        I don’t think having an authoritarian president would be all that bad.

        What? Seriously? He’s not even President, and he’s already nominated the invidious Scott Pruitt, the thieving Steven Mnuchin, the comical Ben Carson, Tom Price, Betsy DeVos, Ryan Zinke, Rick Perry, and Rex Tillerson to high offices. It’s going to be bad, very bad.

        1. hreik

          This ^^^^ 1000x This!
          His choices are just stunningly horrible. Foxes guarding the hen houses. We have dreadful times coming up and the vicious pigs voting to repeal the ACA w/o a replacement…. now what could possibly go wrong?

          I don’t think having an authoritarian president would be all that bad

          SMH at that comment. Bully in chief.

      4. hreik

        Trying for the 3rd time to post this;

        Luckily we got herpes.

        Actually it was Herpes Encephalitis we got. It’s really awful.

      5. Portia

        jgordon, you need to elaborate on who this “large number of people” is that you are talking about–it ain’t clear to me:

        There are clearly a large number of people in America who need to be toughened up and have some sense knocked into them, and an iron fisted dictator can help them with that.

    2. Carolinian

      So did the conflict-averse Obama administration do anything to stop the DAPL until on the way out the door? Perhaps another description of “authoritarian” is willing to make decisions. One could posit that one reason Trump is going to be president is the public has grown frustrated with a predecessor who basically favored corporacracy while trying to keep that stance cloaked behind a smokescreen of p.r. pablum.

      Without a doubt Trump is going to do a lot of things our side won’t like but then there was an election and he won it. The good news is that he is still pledging to oppose the now defunct TPP and preserve entitlements which are stances one could hardly depend on from Clinton with her public/private issue deceptions. If Trump does ok the DAPL that would be unfortunate however if a new populist era is beginning then the left may have to concentrate on the larger fights that have broader public awareness. One thing that seems clear about the mysterious but thin skinned Trump is that he does care about being popular.

      1. Altandmain

        Obama may very well have been paid via campaign contributions to not do anything. Certainly, he got a lot of money from BP.

        I would be very interested to know if there was money exchanged between big oil and the Democrats behind closed doors. Oh, and of course, Clinton would not be any better:

        Probably worse. The US was doomed for at least 4 years the moment Bernie was out – or was sabotaged really. To his credit, Sanders has taken a stance on this one:

        It’s a tragedy he is not about to be inaugurated.

      2. David Troutman

        Carolinian, you have accurately described Obama. He is a charlatan. Change you can believe in. Yes, really.

  2. makedoanmend

    Or will Americans protesting for their rights and responsibilities to insure their presence, and those of their future generations, on this earth resist the strong arm of dictatorship and show those “weak” American how to respond?

    Does one really need to be abused in order to learn?

  3. crow

    A similar situation is developing in southern New England where the US Federal Railroad Administration proposes to build a new 50 mile long high speed rail corridor across southern Rhode Island and southeastern Connecticut, thereby destroying National Register historic towns and villages, rural countryside, farms, hundreds of acres of preserved open space, and most significantly, cross Narragansett Tribe lands, all without anyone’s permission.

    For more information about this plan: and

  4. RenoDino

    This article is way funny on so many levels. First, there’s the Army Corps. of Engineers standing up for the environment and native rights pretending they are not totally governed by more immediate political considerations. After 10 years of expediting this project, they suddenly found religion after 1,099 miles of the 1,100 mile project is built. Now they want an Environmental Impact Statement for the last mile so Obama can preserve his environmental legacy after he presided over its near completion. Just so you know, the ACE has never found an EIS that it likes until now.

    Then you have the detritus created by the protestors that will cause an environmental disaster if it is not cleaned up by spring flooding season. If you have ever seen a riverside hobo camp wiped out by a flood and the results down stream, you will have a better appreciation of what a mess this can be. Save the environment indeed.

    There is no ideal way to move oil, but a pipeline is better than a train. I look forward to Trump telling these snowflakes to go home and getting this project completed.

    Native Americans are going to have bigger fish to fry under Trump when he targets their reservations for energy E&P. They will need to choose their battles wisely. This one is over.

    1. Katharine

      Fat lady hasn’t sung yet; and those most deeply involved are the ones best qualified to choose their own strategy.

      1. jefe

        I agree. If you haven’t read, or haven’t recently read, Cadillac Desert , by Marc Reisner, there is an extremely depressing section about the displacement of the Sioux when the US took their lands for the series of dams on the ‘Mo.
        Part of the ‘arc toward justice’ requires folks from all over getting involved, adding meaningful support, and collectively speaking truth to power on DAPL (and so many other issues).
        As to the age-old approach of acting now in self-interest, and ask for forgiveness after-the fact- the pipeline will be completed, and used. I truly hope that a re-route through the non-tribal Bismarck area is mandated, and obtained. Extra expense, delay, and a strong message to ‘the industry’ would be an energizing and welcome outcome. Limiting the focus to simply non-completion through tribal lands is the best bet here.
        Now, if you are against the pipeline and oil, get on your feet, your bike, get small and local really soon. pv array, electric golf cart car, eschew carbon-based energy, make sure you are conserving maximally. We are all driving the demand-bus on the pipeline, frac’d O & G wells, and carbon-based energy development— just go watch a busy arterial in any-town USA (or the world) at rush hour. Look in the mirror– the enemy is us, and if we want change, we gotta start individually with our choices and actions every moment.
        Katharine, my diatribe is NOT directed at you, but an attempt at an imploration of my fellow folks. The world is overfull of people, one of whom is me. How can I incorporate the ‘do no harm’ notion, short of a bullet to my own head? As they say here in the west, like a steer, I can try…

    2. Eclair

      “Then you have the detritus created by the protestors that will cause an environmental disaster if it is not cleaned up by spring flooding season. If you have ever seen a riverside hobo camp wiped out by a flood and the results down stream, you will have a better appreciation of what a mess this can be. Save the environment indeed.”

      For centuries, a large part of the campaign against Native Americans, justifying our theft of their ancestral lands, has been to portray them as: unChristian, savage, dirty, ignorant, thieving …. I could go on. North Dakota’s governor continues this war, with his smearing of water protectors as environmentally unfriendly litterers.

      For those of us who have had the luck to be born into middle class suburban families, with adequate money and weekly trash collections, disparaging the poor and laughing at their hovels with rump-sprung couches and broken-down washing machines on the front porch and a decades-long collection of rusting autos, perched on cement blocks, in the yard, it is easy to not-know the sheer enormity of how one gets rid of the ordinary detritus of our civilization.

      And, need I point out that this ‘trash’ is the product of our Western civilization, which has invented and encouraged the ‘throw-away’ society, so that more and more profits can be made. Unfortunately, it takes money to dispose of this stuff in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.

      300 abandoned vehicles: product of our fossil-fuel addicted society. Go to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, out into the country surrounding the town; it is the second-poorest county in our great nation. The trucks and cars that ply the roads, that sit beside the moldy and uninsulated FEMA trailers, are at that point in their life span where they can be purchased for a few hundred dollars.

      And, before you reply, well, those Pine Ridge inhabitants should not drive, remember that our government policies: killed off the animal that provided their food, shelter and clothing, herded them into reservations and deliberately destroyed their communal living arrangements with a policy of ‘privatization’, i.e., giving families plots of land scattered miles from other tribal members.

      Hundreds of Pine Ridge Lakota (as well as Native Americans from all over the country) drove to stand in solidarity with their Standing Rock brothers. For a lot of those vehicles, it was the last trip of their lives.

      So, until you have lived under the yoke of a brutal occupying power for a couple of centuries, until you, and your parents and grand-parents and their grand-parents have been massacred and reviled by their occupiers, until you have watched your homelands being forcibly appropriated by corporations, with the backing of the US Government, and suffered while those lands are poisoned and destroyed, you have not earned the right to call them ‘snowflakes.’

      1. JaaaaayCeeeee

        Thank you for your response to RinoDino, because it also makes it clear that the new governor of DAPL is concern trolling with the same, destructive false choice rhetoric.

      2. Altandmain

        Agree with this.

        The tragedy is that most people do not understand. The cause of their poverty was colonization and expansion of the US.

  5. burlesque

    One of the things that I still find incredibly sad is that Lake Oahe itself was created by flooding tribal lands. much of which the Sioux claim they have yet to be compensated for.
    From the above link:

    Factoid: Oahe Dam, SD takes its name from the Oahe Indian Mission established among the Lakota Sioux Indians in 1874. Lake Oahe extends from Pierre, SD to Bismarck, ND.

    (Note the absence of “how the lake came to be” even though the section is entitled Directions & Lake History“)

    Not saying this is all historically accurate info but it does address some of the underlying issues, especially poverty among the native tribes:

  6. integer

    1) Rerouting the pipeline so it does not endanger the lake seems like a reasonable compromise.
    2) Trump owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners.
    3) Energy Transfer Partners has contracts that specified delivery of oil by 1/1/17. These are now in jeopardy, as the counterparties are legally entitled to terminate them, though are not expected to do so.
    4) Iirc Energy Transfer Partners lost money on a recent project and are now financially vulnerable.

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