National Review Online posted an article today about the Standing Rock Sioux and their protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline. It seems as if there is a whole lot more going on here than tribal lands or ecology.
The article reports:
But while members of the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters have protested the construction of the pipeline slated to run just a half-mile beyond their border, other tribes have peacefully courted deals for pipelines that run through the middle of their reservations. This stark contrast illustrates the importance of tribal jurisdiction and the detrimental effects of federal policies that limit development opportunities on many tribal lands.
In most cases, federal policies discourage developers from doing business on Native American reservations in the first place, in effect denying tribes the opportunity to benefit from energy projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). In some cases, however, tribes have succeeded in developing their own energy resources for the benefit of tribal members and their communities.
Pipelines provide a way for Native American reservations to generate income. It should also be noted that pipelines have a better safety record than trucks or railroads. So what is going on?
The article further explains:
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is involved in nearly every aspect of energy development on Indians lands, including reviewing and approving pipeline agreements and rights-of-way approvals, and the process is notoriously inefficient. A 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report observed that “the added complexity of the federal process stops many developers from pursuing Indian oil and gas resources for development” and that the process “can involve significantly more steps than the development of private or state resources, increase development costs, and add to the timeline for development.” The GAO report noted further that in 2014, the Southern Ute tribe reported that the BIA’s review of several of its pipeline rights-of-way agreements took as long as eight years. A simple review of a wind-energy lease on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota took a year and a half for the BIA to review. According to the developer, the delay made the project lose its agreement with the local utility, resulting in a loss of revenue for the company and the tribe.
It is a shame that our government has grown so large that it is preventing Native Americans from taking advantage of the business opportunity offered by these pipelines. Maybe the protesters need to take a look at the potential benefits the pipeline could bring to the tribe if they renegotiated the contract.