More on the Dakota Access Pipeline and an interview with Craig Stevens

Published: Sep. 13, 2016 at 7:26 PM CDT
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We looked more into the situation surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline and spoke with Craig Stevens of the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now Coalition.


(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)

Chris Berg: Breaking news tonight, 22 people arrested today in connection with the world wide day of action to stop the Dakota access pipeline. Also just released, just over an hour ago, North Dakota Governor Dalrymple is pressing the federal agencies and White House to support public safety efforts. Good evening and welcome to "Point of View." I'm Chris Berg. As always, thank you for joining us here tonight. As we've been talking about, this thing is getting out of control. It's exactly why I've been calling on our state leaders, our federal leaders just to go sit down with the leaders of the tribal nations, company execs so that we as North Dakotans can hash this thing out and keep the feds out of it. Speaking of the feds today, in Washington, D.C., and really all over the world, people are standing in solidarity with the standing rock Sioux tribe and other tribal nations to, as you can see, stop the Dakota access pipeline.

I want to share with you one thing that kind of -- kind of interesting. This is a map from the action network web site. This is where you can sign up to organize a day of action protest and you can see the organized protests literally all over the country, all over the world, yet not a single one in the state of North Dakota. Some of you might say hey, Chris, there is no reason for that. Obviously the heart of the protesters – still no Fargo or something?

As I mentioned here at the top of the show, 22 people arrested today for trespassing. Two of these 22 people had locked themselves to pipeline equipment earlier today. All of this is part of this no dapple day of action. Also just over an hour ago issues Governor Dalrymple released a statement calling on the feds for help. Here is a short excerpt from his statement. He says to date the state highway patrol has incurred more than $700,000 in expenses associated with pipeline, protest activities. If all, the state accumulated $1.8 million in costs, including overtime for the department of emergency services, personnel and payments to reimburse costs incurred by partnering law enforcement agencies. Morton county officials have reported incurring a cost of $100,000 a week for a total of approximately 400 G's.

Obvious question, who is going to pay for this? Who is going to pay for $1.8 million? Last week at a presser Governor Dalrymple said he's going to actually go after the protesters to pay for it. My question is, how? What are you going to get from them? How are you going to go after all these protesters and we can't even make arrests for a bunch of them we are told are breaking the law? This is why I've been calling on leadership to sit down, get with the leadership involved so we can mitigate the situation before it even got to this point. I want to share a quick clip. Earlier our DC correspondent visited with Senator John Hoeven about the access pipeline. As I show you this clip, I want you to listen very closely. Just see if you notice anything missing from Senator Hoeven's communication.


Sen. Hoeven: Again, I respect people's right to protest as long as it's done safely and within the law. But at the end of the day, we need to solve problems. We need to bring people together. We need to get solutions. That's what I'm working on here. Through the court and through the courts, finding a way to resolve the problem and get a good solution.

CB: Think about who initiated the protest. He talks about getting the solutions, great thing. He says get in there through the core and through the courts. Do you notice anything missing from that communication? The thing that's missing for me and for many of us from a lot of our leaders, a lot of our federal and state leaders, why are the Native Americans not mentioned in that? The corps leadership, company execs, Native Americans and sitting down and figuring out what are we going to do here? The one city in that sacred stone camp, but we hear all this talk about hey, we've reached out to tribal leaders. If you reached out to Native American, nobody is talking to us, then go call them on it. Show up with media. Show up with cameras. Go down to sacred stone camp where you can legally be. Stand there with the cameras, invite the leadership out. If they say no, there you go. You've shown the good faith, the good face. And they don't want to sit down with you. That's completely different story line than what's being reported a lot of different social media. We'll keep you abreast of what's going on.

Earlier today I got a chance to sit down, he's the spokesperson for a pipeline sort of group, if you will, Midwest alliance for infrastructure now, Craig Stevens. We talked about what is the impact of the DOJ, the Obama administration stepping over the judge's ruling last week and how will that affect obviously the infrastructure investment that we see in this country?

Craig, thank you for joining us. I want to talk about the DOJ decision, full, the judge and his decision, said the Army of Corp. of engineer did what they were supposed to do. They consulted with the tribe. You guys have got a very powerful data graphic explaining how often the U.S. Army Corps of engineers reached out. Even Dakota access pipeline reaching out to the tribe. Yet the DOJ comes out with a joint statement basically halting the construction of the pipeline around Lake Oahe. Talk about the impact overall that that means for industry and business owners and maybe their unwillingness now to make investment in infrastructure around the country.

Craig Stevens: Look, Chris, that's a great question. And I think the stunning development out of the administration can certainly have a chilling effect on infrastructure development across the United States. You take this company, ETP, who invested $1.6 billion to this point, the pipeline itself is 50% complete and 97% of the path of the pipeline is on nonfederal land. And we get down to this narrow scope of where the Army Corps of engineers has jurisdiction. It's already been approved. They've already approved the project. So to get this far down the road, to follow all the rules, to follow all the regulations and then to have this project stopped, we believe temporarily, but stopped really has a chilling impact on the future of infrastructure development in this country.

CB: We've got a limited amount of time. How much money is the company losing daily by not being able to go out and build this pipeline?

CS: That's really a question for the company. But construction is continuing. It's just this one narrow spot where it's not continuing. The pipeline itself is almost 1200 miles. You got 8,000 people working on it.

CB: You mentioned they've got all the permits and whatnot. But according to Larry January news, a co- spokesman, he says the easement is still under review. The part that goes underneath Lake Oahe. They issued a 408. Yet it has not been written. So is the department of Army correct in this joint statement by saying hey, we've got a review now. What is going on here? We may not approve this final situation around Lake Oahe.

CS: That would be an unprecedented development. The engineering itself, the pipeline it's designed to go 90 to 115 feet under the lake. It is a very safe, secure process. This this will be one of the safest pipelines ever constructed. So that would really be an unprecedented move.

CB: What do you mean specifically? Does the Army Corps have the legal leg to stand on by saying we have not issued this permit at this point so we have some ability to put a halt on this or no?

CS: I think that really is the outstanding question. The judge, he had a thoughtful and thorough decision that said the Army Corps has done everything right. The company has done everything right to this point. Again, if there is a stoppage to this, that would really be unprecedented here.

CB: Do politics trump law? Will politics end up trumping law in this country in this situation?

CS: I think that's really the question everyone is asking themselves. The reason to have regulations is because it's extra political. It's outside the political spectrum. You want to have the ability to have good governance even between administration, between different parties. So there is a set of rules that are constructed by the government, both federally and statewide. And even locally so the people can actually move forward with their business. And the notion that politics would trump here is really, really troubling.

CB: It's very troubling. Let's talk about this because standing rock Sioux tribe did release a statement in response to energy transfer statement earlier today from the CEO and chairman. They basically say, I'm going to sum this up, we're doing this because we want to protect our lands, people, water and sacred sites from devastation of the pipeline. Our fight isn't over until there is permanent protection much our people and resources from the pipeline. When I talk to natives and you saw me interview with chase iron eyes last night. They say the only way this thing stops, we stop protesting is if they change where this pipeline is going to get laid. Is there an opportunity to change where this pipeline goes so it does not go by Lake Oahe underneath the river? If so, what would that cost?

CS: I don't know what that cost would be. But as you mentioned, there was ample opportunity for native tribes and native peoples to enter into this process. Already the pipeline as I mentioned, 50% meet. And it does not even touch this reservation. The whole area where this is under dispute or being discussed is on private land and is already an energy corridor for two prior energy infrastructure projects. This is not pristine lands. This is land that's been turned over at least twice by infrastructure projects. That was part of the design and part of the thought process, to make sure this was done in a sensitive manner.

CB: How do you see this ending?

CS: That really is anybody's guess. If they follow science, engineering and the law, this is an easy decision, that this pipeline gets laid and it becomes operational and it becomes one of the most sophisticated operational pipelines in the world. But as you mentioned earlier, if this turns into political debate, then that's anybody's guess.

CB: You nailed it. If you follow the science, this thing could be okay. When it's political, this thing is a hot potato. It's anyone's guess. Craig Stevens, thank you for your time, sir.

CS: Thank you.

CB: All right. Stick around.

We want to know your thoughts about what Craig had to share there. You can head to our web site, When we come back, we'll talk about your kids and their education and how important it is to insure that they are going on the right track. Also here a little fun bit from our friend, Jimmy Fallon about Hillary Clinton, SIRI and her E-mails. Check it out.


Jimmy Fallon: Here is one that sounds like Hillary Clinton.

SIRI, can you help me organize my E-mails?

Hillary/Siri: E-mails, successfully deleted.

Would you like me to destroy your phone with a hammer?

JF: No, no!