Protesting for misconceptions

Matthew Rietveld / The Watchdog

I’ve never been a fan of the government and I know that Native Americans – along with basically all indigenous peoples – have been treated terribly throughout history by colonial powers. It was with this outlook

I started researching the Dakota Access pipeline issue. To my dismay, I learned about the misconceptions, duplicity and downright idiocy of the Standing Rock tribe and supporters.

The most important issue at hand should first be ownership of the land the pipeline is being built on. Surprisingly, the pipeline does not at any point cross into tribal lands. The pipeline is being built on private property, the owners of which voluntarily gave permission to the government to build. The Standing Rock tribe has zero basis to protest the pipeline based on legal ownership of land. If the pipeline was going straight through tribal lands that may be one thing, but the simple fact is that Standing Rock land will be completely and utterly untouched by the pipeline.

Of course, lines on a map don’t quite represent the full historical extent of tribal land. Graphics on Facebook talk about bulldozing burial grounds and sacred land, but are wholly misleading and only bring about emotional responses. First of all, the pipeline will be built next to multiple existing pipelines. Not only does this mitigate the environmental impact of construction, but the land has already been surveyed and no protests were lodged the last times pipelines were built. I don’t at all see how land that has already been bulldozed without complaint is now host to artifacts and sacredness that didn’t matter the last time around.

While the government is characterized as being a cold, unfeeling monster who happily destroys things of immense cultural value, that’s not how the construction process goes.

Anytime anything even suspected of being an artifact is uncovered, construction is halted and a group of representatives from tribes visit the land to observe. When reports of human remains were reported, construction was halted and the representatives found no human remains. Standing Rock is part of the panel that convenes, yet still claims that reports of human remains are going unreported and uninvestigated.

Worse yet is the Standing Rock tribe’s refusal to engage in dialogue with the government before construction began. Hundreds upon hundreds of meetings were scheduled to discuss the route of the pipeline and to get feedback from the tribe, yet the tribe refused to attend meetings and to discuss the matter.

It’s downright childish to ignore every attempt by the government to get feedback and then start throwing tantrums, protesting after the fact. If they had any desire to actually protect what they believe to be tribal land, they would have taken one of the literally hundreds of opportunities given to them in the past. The path of the pipeline has been changed over 140 times, but Standing Rock refused to participate in the process.

Most egregious of all is the tired cry that “water is life,” repeated by every airheaded virtue-signaling hippie across social media. A water intake roughly 90 feet from the pipeline’s river crossing is in grave danger of contamination, says the tribe. Should the pipeline leak, gallons upon gallons of oil will go straight into the tribe’s water supply and have serious repercussions on the population.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Built in the 1960s, the Fort Yates intake is nearing the end of its lifespan. After a severe drought in 2002 saw water levels dip below the intake, government agencies looked into replacing the obsolete intake and installing a new intake deep in a lake where a drought would not affect the tribe.

The Fort Yates intake will be shut down in the coming months, having been replaced by an intake in Lake Oahe. The tribe has known since 2003 that the Fort Yates intake will be shut down yet continue to claim that it is threatened by the pipeline. In fact, the tribe was given nearly $40 million in government grants to build a state of the art water processing facility yet acts like it doesn’t exist.

For 13 years, the tribe has known that the intake will be removed but insist that it will be threatened by the pipeline. This misleading and downright duplicitous behavior was the final nail in the coffin for me, I refuse to support any group who so willingly lies and misleads the public for their own gain. It’s completely absurd.

Far from being peaceful, protestors are violent and have no problem polluting to prevent environmental “damage.” From tire fires to vehicle theft, intimidation and arson, it’s hard to see the protests as anything but a bunch of frustrated, immature children who can’t maintain a modicum of consistency. I’m all for being environmentally conscious, but not burning tires to prove the point.

Finally, the absurdity of protesting against a pipeline is the inevitable protesting in favor of alternatives to pipelines. If the pipeline project was somehow halted, the oil would have to move one way or another – the only alternative being massive increases in prices or shortages. The oil must get from point A to point B and if not by pipelines, then either by rail or road. Trains are 4.5 times as likely to spill and pollute and on average, trucks are over 20 times more likely to spill.

Far from being flat and safe, the roads in the South Dakota area are treacherous, covered in snow and subject to winds so strong they blow trucks over. Not only are alternative methods far more likely to pollute, but they burn fossil fuels to operate and result in increased CO2 emissions. To be so completely backwards as to protest against the most environmentally friendly solution in favor of the environment is ludicrous.

Sadly, this debacle won’t end and the vast majority of people will refuse to go out and seek the truth. Ignorance is bliss, self-righteous anger is more addictive than heroin and nobody has any desire to fight for truth. The only thing that matters to protestors and keyboard activists is emotional reactions and virtue signaling, with the truth being the only thing more unwelcome than the pipeline.