Com­plete the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line

Amer­ica’s en­ergy needs should trump protests of the rad­i­cals

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Any­one sur­prised by Barack Obama’s last­minute de­ci­sion to pass on the com­ple­tion of the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line hasn’t been pay­ing at­ten­tion. Go­ing to war, even with foes of fos­sil fu­els, has rarely ap­pealed to the man who prefers to lead from be­hind. Rather than pro­voke the wrath of en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists so late in the game, Mr. Obama is de­ter­mined to punt and run out the clock. It will fall to Don­ald Trump to take on those who forced the pres­i­dent to take a knee. Once he takes of­fice, the new pres­i­dent must not duck.

The U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers has balked at is­su­ing a fi­nal per­mit en­abling builders of the pipe­line to bore be­neath North Dakota’s Lake Oahe to fin­ish the $3.8 bil­lion project. The 1,134-mile pipe­line, con­nect­ing the North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to stor­age tanks in Illi­nois, has trig­gered protests by mem­bers of the Stand­ing Rock Sioux who con­tend the pipe­line would de­spoil their an­ces­tral home­land and threaten their wa­ter sup­ply. Their con­cerns ap­pear to be ex­ag­ger­ated; the pipe­line would pass no closer than to a half-mile of tribal prop­erty. Their home “where the buf­falo roam” would re­main un­touched.

Where there’s oil, there are en­vi­ron­men­tal fa­nat­ics ea­ger to rum­ble. It’s the fa­nat­ics, not so much the Sioux, that Mr. Obama is de­ter­mined to ap­pease. For them, the goal is not a rerout­ing of the pipe­line, but to block the pipe­line from ever be­ing com­pleted. “The fight against Dakota Ac­cess has fired up a re­sis­tance move­ment that is ready to take on any fos­sil fuel project the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion tries to ap­prove,” says May Bo­eve, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tion di­rec­tor of “On Dakota Ac­cess and ev­ery other pipe­line, if he tries to build it, we will come.”

It’s their long war against fos­sil fu­els that mo­ti­vated thou­sands of pro­test­ers to ig­nore pleas from Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple of North Dakota to leave their en­camp­ment on the wind-swept plains. True be­liev­ers with warm coats say they’ll re­turn to kill the project for good, just as they per­suaded Mr. Obama to spike the Keystone XL Pipe­line last year.

But Mr. Trump says he sup­ports com­ple­tion of the Dakota Ac­cess Pipe­line, and quickly. It’s im­por­tant that he not wa­ver. The rule of law mat­ters, and en­abling a few rad­i­cals, or even a few thou­sand, to over­rule the will of the Amer­i­can peo­ple would be a tyranny of the mi­nor­ity.

Pipe­lines are a 21st cen­tury fact of life. Amer­ica is criss­crossed by them, and 72,000 miles of pipe­lines carry crude oil. Un­less the pro­test­ers rode up to North Dakota on ponies, they too de­pend on cheap gas to do their busi­ness. Re­new­able en­ergy sources that en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists de­mand still only pro­vide about 10 per­cent of the na­tion’s en­ergy needs. An ex­panse of so­lar pan­els that could cover West Virginia would be re­quired to power the en­tire coun­try, and nights and cloudy days would dim to dark.

The Stand­ing Rock Sioux have re­fused to co­op­er­ate with pipe­line builders, but the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers and pipe­line part­ners have con­ferred with 55 In­dian tribes on nearly 400 oc­ca­sions over two years, al­ter­ing the pipe­line route more than a hun­dred times to ac­com­mo­date tribal and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tion. Once sworn in, the man who cel­e­brates “the art of the deal” should of­fer the In­di­ans one they can’t refuse, and move on to com­plete the pipe­line.

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