Hoeven Calls on Protesters to Leave, Urges Respect for the Rule of Law and Fact-Based Solution to DAPL

Senator Speaks on Senate Floor to Address Steps Forward

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today spoke on the Senate floor to call on protesters to leave the site and spare North Dakotans who live and work in the protest area further disruption in their lives. The senator also emphasized the need to respect the rule of law and take a fact-based approach to the Dakota Access Pipeline situation in moving forward. The senator also called for more federal law enforcement assistance and personnel to help state and local law enforcement in North Dakota.

On the Need for Protesters to Leave Corps Land

“However, now that the Obama administration has made its decision, protesters should move from their unlawful site on Army Corps of Engineers land. Even Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault has finally said that protestors need to leave and return home, and the Obama Administration needs to do the same. The administration needs to call on protesters to leave their illegal site, as well.

“So it is time – it is past time – for the protestors to stand down and to recognize that the Courts – and the next Administration – will resolve the issue.

On the Rule of Law and the Need for a Fact-Based Solution Moving Forward

“Unfortunately, the latest Obama administration decision fails to follow the rule of law, it fails to resolve the issue, and it perpetuates an extremely difficult situation for North Dakotans. 

“Furthermore, it is estimated that over five thousand protestors are still unlawfully gathered on federal Corps of Engineers’ lands in our state. They are there in direct violation of the Army Corps’ December 5th eviction notice as well as an evacuation order from North Dakota’s governor. The protesters need to follow the law, just like everyone else.

“The company developed the route for Dakota Access Pipeline beginning in 2014. The current path will run parallel to the existing Northern Border Gas Pipeline, which was placed into service in 1982, as well as an existing high-voltage electric transmission line. So it’s already in an existing energy right-of-way corridor.

“It is important to recognize that this pipeline is not a unique or unusual infrastructure project. There are more than 38,410 crude oil pipeline river and waterbody crossings in the United States, and more than 1,000 in North Dakota. These crossings range from rivers, streams, and lakes, to ponds, canals, and ditches. Also, it’s important to understand that the oil is already being transported across the river on rail and by trucks by road across bridges. Additionally, the pipeline company has modified the route on its own 140 times in North Dakota alone to avoid any important or cultural resources.

“This project should be decided on the merits and in accordance with the law. Failure to do so will cast new uncertainty on all future infrastructure projects – from pipelines that carry oil, gas, and other liquids to transmission lines carrying both traditional and renewable energy. If companies and individuals cannot rely on a system that follows the rule of law, nobody will risk making future investments in our country’s vital infrastructure. That will make our nation less safe, less secure, and less competitive. Think about it: If we can’t build new infrastructure, then we’ll continue to use old infrastructure, which is less safe and less environmentally secure.

“To avoid this kind of situation in the future – the kind of standoff we have with the Dakota Access Pipeline – we need to focus on ways to improve the regulatory process. We need to improve the process to help ensure that all stakeholders engage and all people’s voices are heard in a timely way. When companies make large investments in costly infrastructure projects they need the regulatory certainty to know they can complete the project. This should be done prospectively – not retroactively – looking for ways to better streamline procedures, reduce duplicative hurdles, and improve methods for public input.

“This pipeline can be built safely and include necessary protections for both the Tribe and all others downstream. The fact is, our country needs energy and we can’t have it without energy infrastructure – pipelines, transmission lines, roads, rail, and bridges – to move both traditional and renewable energy from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. Move it both safely and efficiently. Let’s all work together to make that happen.”

On the Need to for More Federal Law Enforcement Resources and Personnel

“The men and women in law enforcement are doing their best to protect everyone, including the protestors. We owe our law enforcement a debt of gratitude for their diligence, dedication, and professionalism. But North Dakota’s law enforcement’s resources are severely strained. I have repeatedly called on the U.S. Department of Justice to provide additional funding and law enforcement officers to ensure public safety. Our state has requested federal assistance and was assured by the Attorney General that we would be given expedited consideration; but that has not been the case. Our Byrne Grant application for federal assistance has still not be approved by the Attorney General.

“I will continue to call on the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Corps to provide additional federal resources, including funding and law enforcement personnel, to assist our state and local law enforcement officers and ensure public safety.”

A complete transcript of the senator’s remarks can be found here.

A video of speech can be found on YouTube here.

A map of pipelines already existing in the U.S. can be found here.

A map of the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline can be found here.