TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Consider All The Alternatives For Building A Safer Pipeline

For the first time in hundreds of years, the Native Americans have what seems to be an astounding victory. I’ve included the exact copy of the letter here from the Army Corps of Engineers, hereinafter referred to as the Corps.

The president-elect has not weighed in but supports the pipeline. North Dakota’s governor, U.S. senators and U.S. representative support the pipeline and complain about the ruling the Corps issued Sunday.

It is apparent that North Dakota legislators do not support Native Americans. That is more than sad, it is sickening.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has at least worked for the welfare of the Natives and their way of life. The president-elect, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Gov. Jack Dalrymple appear to have one thing in common: They support the pipeline as is. And all appear to own stock in a variety of oil companies, including Energy Transfer Partners, the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Much of the unrest, turmoil and injury generated by this controversy can be laid at the feet of our failed North Dakota leadership. Finally, the state has agreed to meet with Native leadership before the Corps jumped in by making its tentative decision.

Can the Corps flip-flop back? Yes, but not likely. Can the president-elect intervene when he takes office? Yes … but if you listened to his promises to be the president of ALL the people, he won’t. Redirecting the pipeline will create more jobs, and after all, isn’t that what he wants? I don’t think he wants to raise the conflict-of-interest question by intervening — unlike our North Dakota good old boys.

Don’t expect anything from our governor-elect. He’s been silent. Why get involved now? On the other hand, the new governor is extremely intelligent (as is our current governor) and may understand why so much is at stake for our Native friends and the countless Nations represented at Standing Rock. His noninvolvement might just end up being a good thing.

A retired Moorhead policeman (who doesn’t want me to use his name) offered a great suggestion. He noted how Alaskan pipelines are built above ground on land and by waterways. True enough. The Alaskan ground is so cold so much of the time that it can rupture underground pipes.

His point is that the pipes over the water are either double- or triple-thick (specifically, the casing around the oil pipe) to prevent oil from escaping into the water even if a leak occurs. They also use safety valves on both ends of the conveyor over the water, so if a leak is detected, the flow is automatically cut off. While much of Alaskan piping is above ground due to conditions, the approach could be adapted for our part of the country: The pipe could be buried across the land, but elevated wherever it crosses the water.

I’m no engineer, but I can see there are better and safer methods of moving pipeline oil. All of them should be explored.

* * *

Here is the Corps of Engineers letter as it appears on its home page:

Today, the Army informed the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Energy Transfer Partners, and Dakota Access, LLC, that it has completed the review that it launched on September 9, 2016.

The Army has determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands, the importance of Lake Oahe to the Tribe, our government-to-government relationship, and the statute governing easements through government property.

The Army invites the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to engage in discussion regarding potential conditions on an easement for the pipeline crossing that would reduce the risk of a spill or rupture, hasten detection and response to any possible spill, or otherwise enhance the protection of Lake Oahe and the Tribe’s water supplies.

The Army invites discussion of the risk of a spill in light of such conditions, and whether to grant an easement for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe at the proposed location.

The Army continues to welcome any input that the Tribe believes is relevant to the proposed pipeline crossing or the granting of an easement.

While these discussions are ongoing, construction on or under Corps land bordering Lake Oahe cannot occur because the Army has not made a final decision on whether to grant an easement.

The Army will work with the Tribe on a timeline that allows for robust discussion and analysis to be completed expeditiously. We fully support the rights of all Americans to assemble and speak freely, and urge everyone involved in protest or pipeline activities to adhere to the principles of nonviolence.

* * *

The letter is subject to interpretation — draw your own conclusions. I think it’s a win-win for the Natives, law enforcement and the residents of the area.

Now, I have to go find a hook-and-ladder truck that will fit in my living room so my wife can safely decorate our 9-foot Christmas tree. Amen.

One thought on “TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — Consider All The Alternatives For Building A Safer Pipeline”

  • Fred Schumacher December 7, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    Putting it above ground is exactly what I’ve been promoting. Build a new bridge by the mouth of the Cannonball. Have the pipeline supported under the bridge and “double bag” it, with a larger catchment pipe surrounding the pressure pipe. Put tanks on land to catch leaks and a shut-off valve on the upstream side. There is no crossing of the Missouri for 120 miles between Bismarck and Mobridge. A new bridge would connect the major east-west highways in the southern tier of ND. It’s a two-for. Have the feds pay 70%, 20% state, 10% private. Design and building could be expedited, as the I-35 replacement bridge was in Minneapolis.


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