BISMARCK, N.D. – Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited the Bakken yesterday and had the opportunity to tour an oil rig near Williston, N.D. During the two hour tour, Zuckerberg visited with oil and gas employees and learned about the industry’s advancements in technology, safety and opportunity.

“It was a tremendous opportunity and a lot of fun to provide a Bakken drilling rig tour for Mark Zuckerberg as part of his visit America tour,” said Ron Ness, President of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. “He had more questions than we had time in our two hours at the rig, and he took the time to meet and visit with many of the employees and learn about their jobs and experiences in North Dakota.”

The tour was organized by the North Dakota Petroleum Council with help from Statoil, Nabors Drilling and Neset Consulting Service as part of Zuckerberg’s plan to visit all 50 states. During the tour, Zuckerberg had a candid conversation with rig crew members about working in the industry, how the industry in North Dakota has afforded them opportunity they could not find at home, as well as how safety has grown tremendously along with technological advancement to enhance rather than replace their jobs.

“Regardless of your views on energy, I think you’ll find the community around this fascinating,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning. “Many people I talked to here acknowledged (climate change), but also feel a sense of pride that their work contributes to serving real needs we all have every day – keeping our homes warm, getting to work, feeding us and more.”

“This was an amazing opportunity to share information with a technology leader,” said Ness. “He now had a much broader grasp of our industry.”

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About the North Dakota Petroleum Council
Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 500 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. For more information, go to www.ndoil.org.

Media Contact: Tessa Sandstrom, Communications Manager  |  ND Petroleum Council
701.223.6380, tsandstrom@ndoil.org

More Than 400 Industry Professionals Set to Gather in Bismarck, North Dakota

BISMARCK, ND – (July 11, 2017) – The 3rd Annual Bakken Conference & Expo will begin Monday, July 17th at the Bismarck Events Center in Bismarck, North Dakota. Produced by BBI International and North American Shale magazine, the event is expected to draw 400+ shale oil industry professionals, including representatives from major operating producers, completion companies and active drillers. The event will include nearly 70 exhibitors, making this the largest Bakken-focused conference in North America this year.

The conference agenda includes more than 60 speakers, focusing on operator updates, investor perspectives and technology trend explanations. “The diversity of speakers we’ve assembled will provide attendees with a full overview of what is currently happening in the Bakken,” says John Nelson, director of marketing and sales at BBI International. “In the past two years, the Bakken play has experienced some exciting changes despite low crude prices. This event will highlight what’s new in the Bakken and how to navigate the play in the future.”

The 2017 program will provide in-depth analysis and timely presentations from speakers focused on the following:

  • exploration and production trends
  • new completion strategies for improved production
  • infrastructure and construction updates
  • logistical challenges
  • investor perspective
  • new product and technology offerings

“As Bakken-focused businesses continue to navigate this new era of shale energy development, three themes continue to emerge: how to find efficiencies, how to reduce operating costs, and how to thrive in an ever-changing oil and gas market. We’ve worked with industry leaders to find the stories and presentations that show what efficiency and cost-reduction efforts look like,” says Luke Geiver, program director of The Bakken Conference & Expo and editor of North American Shale magazine. Featured throughout the agenda are multiple case studies and perspectives offering proven results by operators, service providers and new technology firms. “Because the event mimics the content of our print publication, attendees will receive valuable insight on multiple elements of the Bakken play.”

New this year is a pre-conference seminar titled, The Bakken Vs. The World. The one-day event includes perspectives from multiple entities that are currently working in and out of the Bakken. The agenda is designed to give attendees perspective on what investors, businesses, jobseekers, regulators and others think about when they think of the Bakken, Permian or other shale plays. Presentations from investor analysts, regulators, multi-play service and operations firms, job service personnel and community leaders will highlight what’s better, what’s different and what needs to change in the Bakken.

To view the agenda, visit www.TheBakkenConference.com.

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Much ado about nothing

It’s become difficult to decipher between reality and alarmism these days. To add insult to injury, President Trump can’t seem to take two steps without being ridiculed from every direction.

The latest point of contention has been his decision to disengage from the Paris Climate Accord (PCA). But is all the noise justified? Perhaps not, and here’s why.

First, the agreement is called an “accord” in the United States, rather than a treaty. This is significant because the difference is that a treaty must be ratified by the U.S. Senate. Fearing rejection in Congress, former Secretary of State, John Kerry argued against binding targets to reduce emissions such as those in the Kyoto Protocol. As an “accord”, the President could bypass Congress and commit $1 billion in taxpayer dollars towards the $100 billion-dollar goal promised by signors of the climate agreement to assist developing nations reach their respective climate goals. That’s $1 billion dollars that could have been used on research and development of innovative and emerging energy technologies on America soil.

Some would have you believe that by withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord, the U.S. is taking a stand against meaningful environmental progress, or worse, that the global climate is doomed. Neither could be further from the truth.

In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol, a global climate treaty requiring a 5.2 percent reduction on 1990 carbon dioxide levels, was adopted in Japan. The details on implementation of the Protocol were ratified by 191 United Nations countries in 1997. The first commitment period for the treaty began four years after the Protocol became international law in 2004, and ended in 2012.

Though the treaty was supported by then president Bill Clinton and vice president, Al Gore, it did not have the support of the Republican-held Senate.

The globe’s top three emitting nations are China, the U.S., and India, none of which ratified the Kyoto Protocol. Of the three, the U.S. has been the only country to consistently reduce emissions. Between 1992 and 2004, the U.S. reduced emissions by 13.3 percent. During the same period, China increased emissions a whopping 189.6 percent, and emissions in India rose by 73.3 percent. Fast forward to 2012 and you’ll see that the U.S. continued the trend in emissions reduction.

Without having ratified the Kyoto treaty, the U.S. led the charge as the first major industrialized nation to meet the requirements of the Protocol.

In 2012, the same year the treaty ended, carbon emissions from U.S. energy consumption were the lowest they’d been since 1994, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Remarkably, this was while record-level crude oil production was taking place; the highest for any year, in fact, since 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was first ratified.

Flourishing energy development in recent years has been a boon to the national economy, however, if the U.S. were to commit to the Paris Climate Accord, the economy would suffer greatly. A study by National Economic Research Associates estimated a loss of nearly 3 million U.S. jobs by 2025. By 2040, the study predicts that a host of industries would be wiped out altogether, eliminating jobs, production, and tax revenue from vital sectors of the American workforce.

Arguably the worst part of the Accord is the fact that it would have no significant effect on global temperatures. A peer-reviewed paper by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg published in the Global Policy journal determined that even if every country achieves their emissions goal by 2030, the total temperature reduction by 2100 would be only 0.048 degrees Celsius (0.086 degrees Fahrenheit). Extending the climate commitments another 70 years, according to Dr. Lomborg’s research, still proves little discernable benefit to the global temperature.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord should be acknowledged for what it truly is; a stand not against addressing global climate change, but against global government by fiat.

The U.S. continues to make strides in energy and environmental progress. Emissions have been on a steady decline since 2008. Through the first half of 2016, U.S. emissions were the lowest in 25 years (Energy Information Administration). Better yet, increased production of oil and natural gas has led to lower energy prices, and provided family wage jobs to people from all walks of life.

Climate agreement or not, as history has proven once before, the U.S. will continue to lead the world in energy innovation and environmental stewardship.

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Contact: Jessica Sena, MPA@montanapetroleum.org

What is “Combustion Efficiency?”
By: Casey Beeler, Vice President, IES, LLC.

In terms of oil field combustion equipment, combustion efficiency can mean a variety of things. In the world of natural draft combustors, the term usually refers to how “efficiently” the combustion device removes a target compound in a waste gas feed. Those target compounds, typically hydrocarbons, can range from low BTU (BTU/ft3), predominantly methane mixtures, to high, 3500 BTU or greater gas containing rich mixes of methane through C6+’s (Hexanes and larger hydrocarbons). The seemingly simple and often overlooked waste gas combustor is a workhorse in the field, required to meet the most complex and strictest regulated specifications.

“Remove” is really a misnomer. In 100% efficient combustion reaction (typically known as: Ideal, Theoretic, or Stoichiometric Combustion), the combustor should convert all of target contaminant hydrocarbon, say, methane (CH4) into Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Water (H2O) and Nitrogen gas (N2) plus heat – nothing else, nothing more.

This works very well in the theoretic world, but as any experienced hand will tell you, things are usually far from the ideal in the oil patch. Long chain hydrocarbons that should be liquid; but somehow stayed in a vapor state, exotic cyclic and double- or triple-bonded hydrocarbons, sulfur containing compounds, higher than expected oxygen levels, and entrained liquids are all (just to name a very few) situations that can influence how efficiently your combustor is combusting. These types of situations only take into consideration the feed gas stream; external factors can also turn a combustion device from an extremely efficient piece of equipment, into a soot-laden, smoke-belching, fine-inducing nightmare faster than you can say “what inspector?”

Most oil field combustors, also known as enclosed ground flares – are natural draft stacks. This means that the air required for an efficient combustion reaction is drawn into or “induced” into the stack through air intake ports at the bottom of the combustor. A pressure differential is created in the stack by the temperature difference between the base of the stack and the top of the stack creating this air flow. Clogged flame cells, air pressure inversions at the top of the stack due to high winds and flame cooling can cause a lack of induced air, which will lead to a rich combustion, a condition that can lead to smoke or significant noise from detonation.

Obviously, a maintenance program is extremely important to ensure that your combustors remain efficient. Choosing a combustion manufacturer who stands behind their equipment, providing warranty, service and even maintenance agreements is a good step in the right direction. Probably more importantly, choosing the right vendor involves assessing whether a manufacturer has performed and passed mandated state and federal testing guidelines.

Each state air quality agency require combustors meet specific destruction efficiencies and regulate the amount of emissions opacity or smoke a combustor can have in a given period of time. These rules are designed to be difficult in an attempt to guarantee that a combustor will operate efficiently under field conditions. Federally mandated EPA standards are separate, but very stringent guidelines that a combustor manufacturer must prove its products can pass. If a combustor is placed in the field and it hasn’t met EPA NSPS (Standards of Performance for New Stationary Sources), 40 CFR 60 Subpart OOOO, known as Quad O, the purchaser is responsible for a monitoring and testing schedule as described in the regulation, which can be an undue and costly burden.

Quad O can be a very expensive and difficult test to pass and often takes multiple days of testing to complete. It is a much more detailed testing protocol that a straight forward DRE test that shows a snapshot of a combustors operating efficiency. Manufacturers may try to bypass this requirement; however, the regulation is enforced nationwide by the EPA and, depending on the location, may be a state mandated requirement for permitting a wellsite. Either way, it is not a regulation that can be ignored by the manufacturer or producer. A combustor manufacturer that has performed and successfully passed Quad O testing is one that has demonstrated that its equipment meets or exceeds the strictest emissions standards required by law.

So, what are the takeaways? Combustion efficiency seems like a simple concept, but in reality, combustion of waste gas on a wellsite can entail very complex reactions, which are extremely sensitive to inputs. A regular maintenance program and a manufacturing partner willing to stand behind its products and have an established warranty and service agreements. Producers require combustion equipment that is engineered to the strictest specifications and can meet complex and ever changing inlet gas compositions, which have also been proven to meet stringent state and federal testing requirements. This is the most important requirement, and is why I left it as a parting thought: combustion equipment must be safe and follow best practices. Equipment that takes into consideration the human aspect and keeps operators safe and provides for easy field maintenance through good design should be at the top of any purchasing decision.

 

Bismarck, N.D. – The failure of the repeal of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) final rules regarding methane emissions on federal and tribal lands is an affront to North Dakota and state primacy, says North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness.

“The industry supports the goals of capturing greater quantities of associated gas and reducing waste but this duplicative and unnecessary rule comes at an enormous cost to the state’s economy, tax revenues and private mineral owners.

“We are extremely disappointed in Senator Heitkamp’s decision today to vote against the repeal of this rule. Hundreds of energy employees and numerous businesses, chambers of commerce and trade associations wrote to express concern for the rule. Despite this, Senator Heitkamp has chosen to stand with the environmental activists and the Democratic party in Washington rather than the oil and gas workers and people of North Dakota.

“This rule will provide no environmental benefits, will only increase costs for state and federal governments and the industry, and will further burden already overtaxed federal employees and dilute their ability to perform essential duties. Instead, Senator Heitkamp could have been the deciding vote that would have allowed the BLM and other federal agencies to make a larger, more immediate impact on reducing flaring and venting by focusing on fixing permitting, infrastructure and pipeline delays.

“Just yesterday, Senator Heitkamp applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to grant the state primacy and regulatory authority over CO2 injection wells and the certainty it would bring for North Dakota energy. Her decision today is a complete reversal of that stance. North Dakota already has some of the most comprehensive regulations addressing flaring and waste in the nation. Over the past two years, North Dakota has adopted a series of strict gas capture targets. At the same time, the industry has voluntarily made huge strides in natural gas capture by investing more than $13 billion in natural gas infrastructure since 2006. As a result, flaring has declined by more than 54 percent in just three years even as natural gas production has increased. This progress will only be threatened by the continued uncertainty and bureaucratic red tape brought on by the BLM rule, discouraging innovation and complicating the process for approving infrastructure that will ultimately ensure the capture of more of our valuable natural gas resources.

“We are grateful for Senator Hoeven and Congressman Cramer’s hard work and support for North Dakota Energy and energy workers. We look forward to working with them to pursue other avenues of rescinding this detrimental rule.”

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About the North Dakota Petroleum Council
Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 500 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. For more information, go to www.ndoil.org.

Media Contact:
TESSA SANDSTROM
Director of Communications, NDPC
T. 701.223.6380
EnergyOfNorthDakota.com | NDOil.org

Read more about DAPL: Reflecting on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Next Chapter for the Bakken, April/May 2017 Issue.

By: Bob van der Valk

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) route begins in the Bakken shale oil fields in northwest North Dakota and travels in a more or less straight line southeast, through South Dakota and Iowa, terminating at the oil tank farm near Patoka, Illinois. The pipeline is currently under construction by Dakota Access, a Houston, Texas based company and subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners.

The 1,172 mile pipeline has a permanent easement of 50 feet and a construction right-of-way of up to 150 feet. The 30-inch diameter pipeline is at least 48 inches underground from the top of the pipe or 2 feet below any drain tiles. The map below shows the route and where it intersects with the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in orange.

 

The pipeline is planned to carry 470,000 barrels per day of crude oil “based on contractual commitments to date”. The capacity may be increased up to 570,000 barrels per day.

The company estimated the pipeline would cost $3.78 billion, of which $1.4 billion would be invested in the North Dakota portion, $820 million in the South Dakota portion, $1.04 billion in the Iowa portion, and $516 million in the Illinois portion. Of this, $189 million would be paid to landowners.

Energy Transfer Partners estimates that the pipeline would create up to 40 permanent jobs and 8,200 to 12,000 temporary jobs.

In March 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service issued a sovereign lands construction permit for the DAPL. In late May, 2016, the permit was temporarily revoked in three counties of Iowa, where the pipeline would cross the Big Sioux River and the Big Sioux Wildlife Management Area; historic and cultural sites of the Upper Sioux Tribe, including graves in Lyon County. Also in May, 2016, Iowa farmers filed lawsuits to prevent the state from using eminent domain to take their land.

Citing potential effects on and lack of consultation with the Native American Tribes, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux, in March and April, 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation asked the USACE to conduct a formal Environmental Impact Assessment and issue an Environmental Impact Statement. However, in July and August, 2016, USACE approved the water crossing permits and issued permissions for all but one necessary for the pipeline construction.

In June, 2016, the IUB voted 2 to 1 (Libby Jacobs and Nick Wagner in favor and Chairwoman Geri Huser against) to allow construction on non-sovereign lands to continue. The Sierra Club said this action was illegal before the US Corps of Engineers authorized the project. In late June, 2016, construction was allowed to resume in Lyon County after plans were changed to route the pipeline 85 feet below the site using directional boring, instead of trenching and disturbing the soil on the surface. In December, 2016, the approval was disputed in the Polk County District Court.

On July 27, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sued the USACE in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On September 9, 2016, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied the motion for preliminary injunction. On September 10, 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed an appeal which was denied on October 9, 2016.

In September the U.S Department of Justice received more than 33,000 petitions to review all permits and order a full review of the project’s environmental effects. On September 9, 2016, a joint statement was issued by the US Departments of Justice, Army, and Interior temporarily halting the project on federal land bordering or under the Lake Oahe reservoir. The US federal government asked the company for a “voluntary pause” on construction near that area until further study was done on the region extending 20 miles around Lake Oahe. Energy Transfer Partners rejected the request to voluntarily halt construction on all surrounding private land and resumed construction. On September 13, 2016, chairman and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren, responded to the federal government’s request, saying concerns about the pipeline’s impact on the water supply were “unfounded”. Warren said that “multiple archaeological studies conducted with state historic preservation offices found no sacred items along the route”. Warren said that the company will meet with officials in Washington “to understand their position and reiterate our commitment to bring the Dakota Access Pipeline into operation.”

On November 1, 2016, President Obama announced that his administration “is monitoring the situation and has been in contact with the USACE to examine the possibility of rerouting the pipeline to avoid lands that Native Americans hold sacred”.

On November 14, 2016, the USACE announced that “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.”

Energy Transfer Partners responded by criticizing the Obama administration for “political interference” and said that “further delay in the consideration of this case would add millions of dollars more each month in costs which cannot be recovered.”

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple criticized the decision saying the pipeline would be safe and that the decision was “long overdue”.

Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now (MAIN) Coalition, called the Corps’s announcement “yet another attempt at death by delay” and said the Obama administration “has chosen to further fan the flames of protest by more inaction.”

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said in a statement that the delay “will only prolong the disruption in the region caused by protests and make life difficult for everyone who lives and works in the area.”

Speaking to CBS News in November, Kelcy Warren said that it would be “100 percent sure that the easement gets granted and the pipeline gets built” when newly elected President elect Donald Trump came into office in January.

On December 4, 2016, the USACE announced that it would not grant an easement for the pipeline to be drilled under Lake Oahe and was undertaking an environmental impact statement to look at possible alternative routes.

Jo-Ellen Darcy said that “the best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing”. Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners issued a same-day response saying that the White House’s directive “is just the latest in a series of overt and transparent political actions by an administration which has abandoned the rule of law in favor of currying favor with a narrow and extreme political constituency.” They said that the companies “fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe. Nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way.”

On January 18, 2017, the USACE filed its formal Notice of Intent to conduct the Environmental Impact Statement process. The notice opened a thirty-day comment on the scope of the EIS, which concerns the crossing of Lake Oahe. The proposed EIS would consider “Alternative locations for the pipeline crossing the Missouri River”, direct and indirect risks, and impacts of an oil spill on the lake, the Standing Rock Sioux’s water supply, and their “water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights”; as well as their treaty rights to the lake. The same day U.S. District Judge James Boasberg denied ETP’s request to delay the EIS process.

President Donald Trump signing the Executive Order to advance the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. January 24th, 2017

On January 24, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to advance the construction of the pipeline under “terms and conditions to be negotiated”. The order would expedite the environmental review that Trump described as “an incredibly cumbersome, long, horrible permitting process”.

On February 7, 2017, the USACE sent to the United States Congress a notice of intent to grant an easement under Lake Oahe no earlier than 24 hours following notification of the delivery of the notification. On February 9, 2017, the Cheyenne River Sioux sued the easement decision, citing an 1851 treaty and interference with the religious practices of the tribe.

On February 22, 2017, the protest site was cleared, as that was the deadline for the camp to be cleared by protesters. Although many left voluntarily, ten people were arrested in conflict of this event. They were given the option to leave voluntarily and even with the arrests, there was no major conflict.

The “fill” of the DAPL with Bakken crude oil is expected to start no later the second quarter of this year.

The 38th annual Energy Generation Conference (EGC) fills the Bismarck Event Center Jan. 24-26 with an expanded exhibitor showcase and training for more than 2,000 energy workers from across the U.S. and Canada.

One of the premier energy industry conferences in North America, the EGC offers professional development in all areas of energy production from engineering and environment to safety and support services.

Coordinated by Bismarck State College Continuing Education and TrainND, the conference begins with pre-conference training all day Tuesday, Jan. 24, in the Bismarck Event Center Exhibit Hall. The Exhibitor Showcase, the only event open to the public, runs 4:30 to 6 p.m. and features more than 300 vendors.

Concurrent information sessions are scheduled Jan. 25-26 in key areas such as engineering, electrical, environmental, instrumentation, mechanical, operations, safety, and professional development.

Topics to be addressed include best practices for oil storage, working with 2 mode analog controllers, a Waters of the United States update, addressing regulatory changes facing the regional utility industry. There will also be full day workshops on January 24 on topics ranging from Team Safety to leadership success and project management.

Keynote speaker Dr. Scott Tinker, the director of the Bureau of Economic Geology, the state geologist of Texas, a professor with the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. He will present the “Three Es of America’s Energy Future – Energy, Environment, & Economy” on Wednesday, January 25 and Thursday, January 26, 2017.

Online registration is available through the EGC website at egcnd.com. For more information or help with registration, call Continuing Education at 701-224-5600 or 877-846-9387.

XTO accepting applications for Give Back to the Bakken grant program

XTO Energy is dedicated to supporting the communities where we operate – where our employees live, work and volunteer. The communities located in the Bakken formation area – eastern Montana and western North Dakota – have welcomed XTO Energy. To show our appreciation, we want to Give Back to the Bakken.

A few days remain for nonprofit organizations in Montana and North Dakota to apply for two $25,000 grants from XTO Energy.

The grants, says XTO Energy, is a show of appreciation for the communities in eastern Montana and western North Dakota who have welcomed the company and its employees into their communities.

The two grants will be awarded to organizations that are meeting a demonstrated need for communities in the Bakken. Grant requests are due on October 31.

Click here for application guidelines and more information.

ndxto_awards_62k_grants_home_on_the_range_article_componet_1880x1058

jessica-senaBy: Jessica Sena

If you haven’t heard of the Dakota Access pipeline protest across the North Dakota border, now’s the time to pay attention.

The project, a 30-inch-diameter pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners that would move up to 570,000 barrels per day from the Bakken oil fields to Patoka, Illinois, was scheduled to be operational by the end of the year. The pipeline operator purchased voluntary easement agreements on 100% of the properties along the route in North Dakota and 99% of the properties across the entire four-state route. All permits, including approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in July, have also been obtained by the company; however, protests have stopped construction in its tracks.

Yesterday, two decisions marked a precedent setting action by the federal government, with respect to land use and lawful development. Judge James Boasberg of the U.S. District Court denied the South Dakota Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit to block pipeline construction, siting a lack of evidence that building the pipeline would harm the Tribe.

The Departments of Justice, the Interior and the Army then immediately announced an indefinite suspension of pipeline construction to reassess cultural impacts to what the Tribe calls “sacred ground”. The pipeline route does not cross the Standing Rock reservation, however, the Tribe fears harm to Lake Oahe on the Missouri River in North and South Dakota.

Consultation with GeoEngineers, a subcontractor to Dakota Access, provided information which indicates the boring process would not be of a magnitude to impact natural features, cultural resource features or above ground structures. The crossing at Lake Oahe will be placed approximately 140-210 feet below the ground surface and approximately 92 feet below the bottom of Lake Oahe. The pipeline would utilize the best available safety and monitoring technology.

The Dakota Access team held 154 meetings with local elected officials and community organizations in North Dakota since the project was announced last summer. Over the course of the year-long approval process with the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the Tribe did not once appear to voice concerns over the impacts of the pipeline’s route.

Protests arose after the project was approved and easements secured, and have since become violent and unlawful. Construction workers (100% of which are union per the project agreement) have needed protection by security guards and law enforcement. National Guardsmen have also been alerted by the North Dakota Governor to standby for support.

Allies of the Tribe in its protest have been extreme environmental groups, the Black Lives Matters movement, a handful of celebrities, and Green Party candidate for President, Jill Stein. Stein was among many seen vandalizing construction equipment last week, for which a warrant was issued for her arrest. Multiple arrests of protesters have been made along the pipeline route for trespassing and criminal mischief.

The suit filed by Earthjustice on behalf of the tribe states that, “the tribe relies on the waters of Lake Oahe for drinking water, irrigation, fishing and recreation and to carry out cultural and religious practices. The public water supply for the tribe, which provides drinking water for thousands of people, is located a few miles downstream of the proposed pipeline crossing route.” It goes on to say, “the cultural and religious significance of these waters cannot be overstated. Construction of the pipeline … and building and burying the pipeline would destroy burial grounds, sacred sites, and historically significant areas on either side of Lake Oahe.”

In the federal agencies’ announcement to halt construction on federal land and beneath Lake Oahe, it was said the conflict highlights the need to consider “nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.” “Reform” is the word that should have everyone concerned.

In a 1988 case, Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protective Association, wherein The U.S. Forest Service attempted to complete a logging road through the Six Rivers National Forest in northwestern California, despite the religious use of the area by three Indian tribes, the Supreme Court ruled against the Tribes.

By ruling in favor of development, the Court avoided a situation in which tribes could guarantee the nonuse of significant portions of government land. The Court, reportedly, realized that the veto power requested by the tribes “could easily require de facto beneficial ownership of some rather spacious tracts of public property,” and it accordingly acted to prevent such an occurrence.

Following the decision, the Supreme Court stated, “however much we might wish that it were otherwise, government simply could not operate if it were required to satisfy every citizen’s religious needs and desires.”

And here we are, now faced with the very question of satisfying desires of some people over the laws which govern all people. The federal government has gone against its own agencies and judges’ lawful determinations to allow the heavily regulated construction of a $3.7 billion dollar pipeline which would create between 8,000-12,000 construction jobs and millions in beneficial tax revenue to the states in which it operates.

It’s worth noting that there are more than 2 million miles of pipeline traversing the country. Seventy percent of domestic crude is transported by pipeline, the safest means of moving oil and natural gas according to the federal government’s own Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

Those resources, moved by pipeline, provide the necessary living essentials to all people, regardless of their beliefs or support. Every one of the protestors along the Dakota Access pipeline is a consumer of petroleum products, and benefits from the monies which result from pipeline infrastructure.

This decision, perhaps a Keystone XL sequel, will set the stage for what appears to be a frightening and uncertain future. If unlawful protests can reverse lawful permits, then the rule of law itself as it pertains to pipelines, permits, people and public lands as a whole, is imperiled.

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