Energy

North Dakota Locals Say Oil Pipeline Protests Are Wearing Thin

REUTERS/Andrew Cullen

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Chris White Tech Reporter

Environmental and Native American activists are protesting a multi-billion dollar oil pipeline in North Dakota and are not winning friends or allies with local community members, mostly ranchers, according to reports.

Ranchers have no problem with people protesting the pipeline, but the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) protests are staring to become an unwanted distraction in the area, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Local rancher Jack Schaaf, 60, said he was tired of navigating police checkpoints if he wants to drive into the city for pizza.

Expressing his general frustration, Schaaf said that “it’s totally wrong” for protesters to march on the highway, adding that, “If they want to protest, they should be in the ditch.” The North Dakota rancher also complained that closings at Lake Oahe prevented him from boating.

Protestors may throw down pickets without any motivation from locals, following the Obama administration halting construction of the hotly contested pipeline, potentially gifting protesters a victory shortly after suffering a debilitating court loss.

President Barack Obama said Sept. 9 that construction on the nearly 1,200-mile pipeline would be shelved until the government can determine the effects it will have on the environment.

The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior announced the pause in an area near the North Dakota’s Lake Oahe, a major water resource for the state’s Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The move came shortly after a judge denied a preliminary injunction to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, arguing that the Native American tribe could not show how the pipeline would damage the group’s sacred ground.

The tribe haggled with oil pipeline developers over whether the National Historic Preservation Act, which allows the government to preserve historical and archaeological sites, can and should be used to prevent the building of the $3.8 billion pipeline. The bulk of the protests are happening on federal land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The likely short-lived victory has not taken much starch out of the protesters. Activists called on Obama to revoke permits for the nearly completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAP) at a protest outside the White House Tuesday evening.

“They have been somewhat threatened by this,” Bruce Strinden, a Morton County commissioner and part-time rancher, said about the local residents. “These ranchers, it’s their livelihood. If somebody would come and set fire to their hay reserves and come and cut their fences and cause their livestock to get loose, that causes real problems.”

Other North Dakota locals believe more has to be done to establish order.

Bismarck, N.D. residents Jim and LaVonne Henes told New York Times reporters that the protests have significantly affected their lives.

“I didn’t feel safe,” Henes told reporters. “The feeling’s getting to be that the governor hasn’t done enough. They’re on corps land, which they’re not supposed to be on. This has gone on long enough. The governor needs to show some backbone.”

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