Thursday, November 03, 2016

Administration watches as Dakota Pipeline protesters wreak havoc

By Tracy Brunner and Dave Eliason

As the nation watches protests over the Dakota Access pipeline escalate and turn violent, Americans are beginning to ask questions.

As cases of theft, trespassing, vandalism and dead and mutilated livestock in the area continue to mount, why is the federal government standing by and allowing this chaos to unfold; and why are they so unconcerned with the impact the protesters are having on local ranchers and their livestock?

The latter question is easy to answer. After successfully navigating the exhaustive federal environmental review process known as NEPA, or the National Environmental Policy Act, the Dakota Access pipeline was approved and moving forward, only to run into the buzzsaw of offensive environmental litigation.

That litigation effort proved unsuccessful, and the approval was upheld in federal court a few months ago. Almost immediately following that decision, the Obama administration reversed its own decision — and defied the federal bench — by unilaterally halting the project.

Unfortunately for local landowners and ranchers, North Dakota has been turned into a war zone of violent out-of-state protests and activists. Protesters that are wreaking havoc on private property and threatening local farmers and ranchers while the administration stands idly by.

Now the administration is setting a new low, crossing constitutional boundaries between the executive and judiciary and upsetting long held standards of fair play. After following the appropriate administrative and regulatory process and overcoming legal challenges, President Obama stepped over his constitutional authority to unilaterally overturn a court ruling that was in favor of the pipeline.

Brunner is the president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and 4th generation on his family cattle operation located in Ramona, Kan. Eliason is Public Lands Council president and a 4th generation rancher from Utah.

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