Duluth News Tribune featured an op-ed by James “Spider” Marks this past week focusing on violent and unlawful pipeline protests that have become far too frequent in recent years. Protesters have shown they are willing to destroy property, damage the environment, and put the safety and wellbeing of workers, law enforcement, and innocent bystanders at risk to make their point. Marks explains why this approach is unacceptable and irrational.
Last month, nearly 200 protestors were arrested at a Line 3 pipeline construction site in Minnesota. As Marks outlines, there was extensive vandalism of contractor equipment, unlawful entry into multiple construction trailers, ironic destruction of environmental safeguards, and property damage that extended to every element of the site. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was incurred by one indigenous-owned contractor, Gordon Construction.
Construction company leaders of Native American roots, such as Matt Gordon, believe that pipeline opponents are “shielding themselves with Native American” to oppose permitted pipeline development. Gordon, along with several other Native American business leaders came together to assert, “Protests that disrupt work, damage property, and threaten our employees while claiming to be on behalf of our Native people is creating additional tension and consequences within our tribal communities.”
On top of the Line 3 vandalism, there have been a myriad of other pipeline attacks varying in tactic and intensity across the nation. Among other instances, thousands of protestors illegally camped, vandalized property, attacked law enforcement officials, and littered over 48 million pounds of trash near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Now more than 4 years later, the Dakota Access Pipeline continues to operate safely and serves as a catalyst of our nation’s economy and benefactor to US energy security.
There is an appropriate time and place to express concern over American energy policy and infrastructure development. And as demonstrated repeatedly, dangerous protests are not the correct way. Marks concludes:
“Opponents choose to ignore the science and facts around the need for infrastructure, the extensive permitting and approval process, and the impressive safety record of modern pipelines in favor of ideology and rhetoric, with no apparent regard for the law. While there may be disagreements regarding pipeline development and American energy policy, destroying property, breaking the law, and threatening the safety of hard-working tradesmen and tradeswomen is not an acceptable form of dissent.”