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In a recent newspaper column, Dave Archambault Sr. addressed the continuing controversy over the Dakota Access Pipeline. Archambault, the father of Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II, made the case for the opponents of the pipeline.

You may not agree with his arguments, but he presents an interesting case for the opposition. It’s the type of discussion we need, from both sides. The issue has attracted attention worldwide and needs to be treated as more than a protest. For some it runs deeper than a pipeline across the Missouri River. It’s a question of whether we rely on oil in the future or move into renewables.

The Bismarck Tribune Editorial Board, early during the oil boom, endorsed the use of a network of pipelines to move oil. We felt then, and still do, that pipelines provide the most efficient and safe means for moving oil. Pipelines aren’t accident-proof, but new pipelines have more safeguards and monitoring systems than those built in the past. This one will be thicker than normal in the water crossing, bored 90 feet below the bed of the river and the crossing pipe “pigged” — that’s an interior inspection device — at least every five years.

Archambault Sr. argues using trucks and railroads to move oil provides more jobs. Not everyone opposed to the pipeline agrees with him. That’s what makes the situation complex. With the numerous tribes gathered near Cannon Ball there’s a rare demonstration of unity among them. They don’t agree on everything — tactics, energy policy, etc. — but they share a belief that tribes’ concerns aren’t given the attention they deserve. That all too often they have been forced to go to court to have their concerns addressed.

A judge in Washington, D.C., is expected to rule this week on whether to stop work on the pipeline while Standing Rock pursues a case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for, in their belief, failing to follow the National Historic Preservation Act and other federal laws in approving the crossing. Most of the protest has centered on the river crossing construction site just north of the Standing Rock Sioux boundary.

Until that ruling, North Dakotans have an opportunity to hear the viewpoints of many leaders taking part in the 20th annual Tribal Leaders Summit from Tuesday to Thursday at the Bismarck Event Center. The public is invited to discussions on the pipeline.

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The summit may not change any minds, but it’s a chance to get a wider understanding of the issues. The more each side understands the other the better the odds of resolving issues like the barricade on Highway 1806, which diverts traffic the long way around the protest site and cuts off direct access to the reservation.

The Tribune won’t try to predict how U.S. District Judge James Boasberg will rule this week. Whatever he decides, it won’t resolve the issues at play here. The nation’s energy future and how tribes are perceived and treated won’t be decided until after prolonged debate and, no doubt, continued protest.

— Bismarck Tribune

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— Kearney (Neb.) Hub

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