Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Continues to Promote Misinformation Regarding DAPL

Appearing in today’s Bismarck Tribune, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) took out a full page ad titled “Standing Rock Matters, Too” that continued the Tribe’s campaign against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In the ad, Tribe Chairman Mike Faith makes a number of false and misleading statements that build on the already salacious mischaracterization the Tribe has purported for years.

If SRST could have it their way, the Tribe would like the public to believe that the Dakota Access Pipeline is fundamentally unsafe (despite pipelines being the safest means of energy transport) and that they and their concerns were dismissed and ignored during Dakota Access’ planning and construction.

Just as they did during Dakota Access’ original permitting and construction process, the Tribe continues to overlook the inconvenient facts that several pipelines already cross the Missouri River, and have safely operated for years and not been the subject of such contention. In fact, the Northern Border Pipeline, a high pressure natural gas line built in 1983, transports over 2 million cubic feet of natural gas per day across the Missouri River, north of Cannon Ball and parallel to where the Dakota Access Pipeline has now safely operated for three years since coming into service.

It is paramount that we stick to the facts when it comes to our nation’s critical energy infrastructure network. Some of the inaccurate claims in the ad include:

“We expressed concerns with the prevalence of cultural resources along the pipeline route, and of bald eagle nests located right next to the proposed Horizontal Directional Drill pad, a stone’s throw from Cannon Ball community”

Fact check: FALSE. As has been documented, the Dakota Access Pipeline corridor is not in proximity to ancient burial grounds and other cultural sites as Chairman Mike Faith suggests. In fact, the pipeline route was reviewed by seven archeologists from the State Historical Society of North Dakota. According to Chief Archaeologist Paul Picha’s findings, “The inventory recorded ten (10) locations where rodent to bovine-sized mammal bone fragments and teeth were present. No cultural material was observed in the inspected corridor…In conclusion, the cultural resources inventory and inspection conducted reported herein yielded no evidence of infractions to or violations of North Dakota Century Code.”

“Five years ago, we told the Corps of Engineers that, at the very least, it should prepare a comprehensive environmental impact statement to address these issues. The Corps refused to consult with our Tribe early on.”

Fact check: FALSE. As many as 400 individual meetings were held by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Native American tribes regarding the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It should be noted that Mike Faith and SRST “…ignore the fact that despite multiple attempts to reach out to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, there were multiple occasions that Chairman Dave Archambault, or other representatives of the tribe, simply refused to participate in the process. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also did not participate in three separate, well publicized, public hearings on the project held by the North Dakota Public Services Commission.” The tribe’s lack of engagement came despite a personal invitation from the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner urging them to participate in the process. Ultimately, the tribe never expressed any concerns to the NDPSC throughout the entire review process.

“We were given an emergency response plan that was nearly entirely redacted, with page after page blacked out.”

Fact check: FALSE. In the above quote, Mike Faith would like to make the contention that the tribe was intentionally kept in the dark and misinformed about the Dakota Access Pipeline. The reality is that pipeline operators must redact some details of emergency response plans to protect the pipeline from agitators and protestors that may endanger themselves or others by tampering with the line and construction sites. Residents were well informed through a number of meetings about proper emergency response protocols.

“We pointed out numerous cultural sites located along the pipeline route near Cannon Ball, and Energy Transfer contractors promptly plowed through them with heavy equipment.”

Fact check: FALSE. See above, and it should be noted that Dakota Access’ route was up for discussion and debate against alternative routes. The Corps and pipeline’s operator settled on the most preferred route with far fewer water crossing and no intrusion on culturally significant sites. In fact, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg recognized the Army Corps of Engineers for exceeding its obligations under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

“Sen. Kevin Cramer and others have exaggerated the economic impact caused by a shutdown of DAPL. The North Dakota oil boom was [sic] underway long before DAPL.”

Fact check: FALSE. The Dakota Access Pipeline has been a significant catalyst for Bakken oil production, and remains a boon for North Dakota’s economy. The pipeline is responsible for safely transporting 40% of crude oil production from the Bakken formation and spurred much of the buildout in the region. If the line is shuttered as Mike Faith and SRST hope, a massive bottleneck in the Bakken would be created and transportation would rely on far less safe means like truck or rail. A shutdown of Dakota Access will lead to layoffs in the Bakken fields, an increase in prices on consumers, and a major impact on state tax and royalty revenue leading to budget shortfalls – endangering critical state programs.