TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Mni Wiconi, Water is Life

Without water, this planet would be uninhabitable. Without protecting our natural resources, our planet will be uninhabitable. As the polar ice cap (a major source of all water on earth) recedes, water levels will rise dramatically.

With all of the activity at Standing Rock in North Dakota, the actual focus of tribal intent is being lost. The Native Americans aren’t protesting because they have nothing better to do. They protest because they are defending their last frontier. The white man seized most of their ancestral lands and then ignored their sovereignty, took away their buffalo, then placed confined the nomads to the reservations and wanted them to farm.

Farming requires water. Life requires water. Water can be polluted … and finally the tribes have brought the issue into focus. The problem, as I see it, is that the focus has not been kept on water — but has shifted to the protectors vs. law enforcement. In the process, the purpose of the gathering has been lost.

There’s too much going on at Standing Rock for intelligent discussion by one who is not there. Needless to say, reports in the electronic media — including social media — are full of inaccurate and downright false reports, regardless of your views on the subject.

It’s difficult to figure out which reports are true, which are partially true and which are downright false.

Let there be no doubt that the governmental leadership in North Dakota on this issue is nonexistent. Colorful Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., walked the pipeline and proudly proclaimed (surrounded by his security) that the pipeline will proceed. At least, he actually went to the site … unlike Sens. Heidi Heitkamp and John Hoeven and Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who have steered clear of the issue.

Last Friday, the news agency Reuters reported that a Sunoco gas pipeline ruptured in Lycoming County in Pennsylvania. It spilled 55,000 gallons of gasoline into a tributary of the Susquehanna River. The pipeline company noticed a decrease in pressure and sent emergency crews to the area, along with several governmental agencies, but they couldn’t address the problem immediately because of flooding from recent rains. They did shut the pipeline down … and more problems developed.

Sunoco is the same pipeline company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline that crosses North Dakota.

Reuters’ analysis shows Sunoco has had more accidental releases than any other operator, 200 since 2010. “Releases” are leaks, folks. That’s what the focus at DAPL should be on: looming safety issues.

We have floods in North Dakota, too. What happened with the pipeline in Pennsylvania could happen here. Oil and gas -— both pollute when they leak.

Ask yourself: What would happen to a pipeline if there was an earthquake? Yes, we’ve had them in North Dakota … not as many as Oklahoma, which has a different geological structure, but they do occur here. What then? Multiple breaks, explosions. Who knows? It’s not as if natural disasters do not occur.

Are there ways to monitor the flow? Yes. Are there ways to detect where the leaks occur? Yes. Are there ways to prevent the flow “after” the leak is detected? Yes.

Can there be damage control “before” the leak is located? No.

Once a leak has been found, and assuming it is repaired, the real work begins. This, again, raises issue of our environment.

The Forum’s Amy Dalrymple — more than a year ago (Sept. 26, 2015) — described the horrors (my term) of the enormous North Dakota oil spill near Tioga; 20,600 barrels of petroleum spilled on farmland there in 2013. At the time of her article — already two years after the spill at the time of publication — giant piles of soil determined the cleanup’s progress. The larger contained contaminated soil; the other, clean soil. Today, the dirty piles are still much bigger than the soil that has been restored. The work is not nearly complete.

Now let’s assume a flood. Further assume that where the flooding occurred, one or more pipelines breaks. If they can’t be repaired while the river is flooding, just imagine the water pollution that would take place.

Go one step further. Imagine the break and the flood are above an aquifer that is the sole source of water for— hmm, maybe for a reservation or a rural water system.

I’m not trying to be a fear monger here. I recognize the tribes have a vested interest in this issue. The potential problems are real, not imagined. Sure, emergency crews can use skimmers and other means to limit the scope the pollution, but when the damage is done, it is done.

Can the damage be undone? If an aquifer is polluted, the water supply is done. If it flows down rivers or lakes, water purifiers do no good; wildlife and lands are destroyed.

And for how long?

Well, ask the folks in Louisiana, who are still dealing with losses and pollution years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the largest oil spill in history.

As the pipelines cross or border rivers, lakes and aquifers, the dangers exist. The company behind DAPL has been shown to be America’s champion leak leader.

Still think this is only a Native American problem? I think not. Once a major city, or even a smaller one, loses its water supply, all hell will break loose. Then, at last, our government just might finally focus on the problem. Regulation will be a must! Studying the potential impact of the pipeline disasters will become a must!

It already is.

I read a neat post that suggested that instead of a pipeline, North Dakota should invest in refineries. Of course, that would take forethought, and we’d have to get the state’s politicians off their duffs to explore the options.

Courts can rule. Governments can intervene. But is either truly a solution? How about a timeout to really study the issue? The oil isn’t going anywhere. The oil companies will never abandon North Dakota as long as the oil is here. The people — ALL the people — need to be assured that our natural resources, particularly water, are protected and preserved.

The Native Americans have it right. There is a problem. Unlawful activities will not help to bring about resolution, but peaceful protest cannot hurt. I urge our North Dakota and federal leaders to confer with their Native American counterparts to bring about a peaceful resolution. The clock is ticking. Violence that can’t be undone seems right around the corner. Those of us who are impacted — that would be ALL of us — need to see fast action to peacefully resolve these issues. Standing Rock today … Fargo-Moorhead tomorrow.

On another subject, join me in praying for the national election to be over soon so that friendships can be restored. Amen.

One thought on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Mni Wiconi, Water is Life”

  • Diana Esta Green October 28, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    Having been very much involved with what is happening in North Dakota with the Native Americans, I have to say thank you for your clear and concise descriptions of what is happening there, and the REALITY that most people are totally numb to. Standing Rock has brought to light that not only their water but millions of people in the United States along the Missouri River and on down into the Mississippi River at St Louis. From there it goes all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. It is unimaginable that so many people would be effected and are totally UNAWARE of the danger to THEM.
    There is already an area of Alabama whose water comes from a polluted river that has the HIghest Cancer Rate in the WHOLE COUNTRY. but try to get water samples out of there and get them tested?? The containers come back open and empty. This is NOT hear say. it is a FACT that a family member from Moulton, AL has tried to send water out for testing, and the attempt was intercepted and destroyed.Again, big money has covered our eyes to the reality by lying and intercepting attempts to prove them liable.She has a lump in her chest. The doctors there refuse to treat her for it.
    This is the TIP OF THE ICE BERG FOLKS. as many people around the country are finding out.. Will be watching to see just how long it takes for the country to WAKE UP to what is happening.


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