Government — at the local, state, and federal levels — works best when those making decisions on issues hear from those who are impacted. And at a Special City Council meeting today, the City of Minot through possible action of the Council may weigh in and speak up the ladder — into the federal court system — as a signator of an Amicus brief (learn about it here) regarding those impacted by continued operation of the Dakota Access pipeline.
At question is this: should the Dakota Access Pipeline be allowed to operate (transport oil from North Dakota oil wells to refineries) while the courts review whether the Army Corps of Engineers complied with all parts of the National Environmental Protection Act prior to permitting construction of the pipeline in 2016?
If you weren’t aware, Minot City Council debated this question just a couple of days ago but did not reach an agreement on what to do. They’ll meet again this morning to try one more time.
It’s an emotional issue for North Dakota; the permitting and construction of the pipeline under the Missouri River and across the land just North of the present-day border of the Standing Rock Nation gave rise to months of peaceful protest. There were also occurrences of less-than-peaceful confrontations with law enforcement.
But the question of whether the Dakota Access Pipeline was properly permitted and should have been built is not the question for City Council today. The question is what impact will shutting down the pipeline have on the City and Citizens of Minot? And that’s what I’m providing comment on below.
Mayor Sipma, Members of City Council:
Maybe the Dakota Access Pipeline should be shut down, maybe it shouldn’t. That’s a question for the courts. I encourage you to speak — as a Council — into our system of government so that decision may be fully informed by all those impacted by it.
When it comes to the citizens of Minot, I believe we are impacted by the pipeline’s operation. I don’t have statistics or data, so I speak only anecdotally, but I believe fewer oil trains are passing through Minot today than at points in the past when trains and trucks were the only methods of bringing North Dakota oil to market. With fewer trains, I feel safer.
I realize that one place’s ‘safer’ may come at the expense of another place’s increased risk, and if I were a member of the Standing Rock Tribe or a resident of that area, I might have a different perspective. Further, I respect the tribe’s right to challenge permits and the court’s authority to decide the matter.
Our government and its processes work best when we are all participants — both as individuals and as the organization’s we sometimes represent. So please, as you contemplate this difficult decision, please bear in mind the jurisdiction you represent and that the Courts need to hear from Minot and our interests as a whole.
Respectfully For Minot,