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The Human Flourishing Project — The ‘F’ Word

On the latest episode of Power Hour, I announce what I call The Human Flourishing Project — the first step of which is the new Human Flourishing Podcast. One of my advisors on the project and my co-host on the podcast is strategy guru Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach. He joins me on Power Hour to discuss how the project came to be and what we hope to accomplish with it.

Bottom line: I expect this project to both accelerate our impact on the energy debate and impact many other crucial debates, as well.

In October, 2016 I gave a speech to the Genius Network annual event in Arizona. It was about freedom and human flourishing. The event was $10K a person to attend and until now the full recording was only available to Genius Network members who pay $25K a year. But now it’s available on YouTube. It’s 12 minutes, maybe the best talk I’ve ever given. Please share it.

My favorite speech finally available — and it’s just 12 minutes:

EDITORS NOTE: Readers may enter in their email at HumanFlourishingMovement.com to get updates about the new project. Alex will be launching the new podcast by the beginning of February.

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PODCAST: On Trump, Energy Policy and the Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

Last week I was interviewed on the Reason.com podcast by leading libertarian thinker Nick Gillespie. The subject was the new administration’s energy policy–and, more broadly, what the right energy policy is.

What [Trump] has said about energy…is the best of any president since Reagan.

The interview was supposed to last 20 minutes but it ended up lasting an hour. Nick asked great questions and we covered some ground I haven’t covered in other interviews.

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Heartland Institute Experts React to Trump Appointing Scott Pruitt to Head EPA

“One small appointment for Trump, one giant leap for environmental sanity.” – H. Sterling Burnett

President-elect Donald Trump today named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be his administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt is among some two-dozen state attorney generals suing EPA to stop President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the agency’s rule regulating methane emissions.


“With the choice of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency – a man who has fought to uphold federalism, the limits placed upon the federal government in the Constitution, and sound policy on energy and environmental issues – it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

“Pruitt has sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards rule, its Waters of the United States rule, and the Clean Power Plan. So it seems there is hope the next administration will finally rein in the runaway EPA – by withdrawing or rewriting those and other rules in a way that respects freedom and economic progress, or by deciding not to defend the rules in court. One small appointment for Trump, one giant leap for environmental sanity.”

H. Sterling Burnett
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News
hburnett@heartland.org
312-377-4000


“There would be many people on my list for great EPA administrators but none would be any higher on it than Scott Pruitt. We have not had a knowledgeable individual at the helm of EPA for more years than I am willing to say. For well over a decade, we have had a combination of incompetence and anti-capitalists at the helm who knew nothing of environmental science and more importantly they did not care. As long as they could place road blocks in the way of progress with no validity whatsoever as to improved environmental protection, they felt they were doing their job.

“This is a great day for the environment, the American people, and the economy – which will soon no longer be crippled by totally insane regulations, including the idea that humans exhale a pollutant with their every breath.”

Jay Lehr
Science Director
The Heartland Institute
jlehr@heartland.org
312-377-4000


“The selection of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is an obvious commitment to a pro-environment, pro-energy, pro-jobs agenda. Pruitt has been a vocal critic of federal overreach and understands that state agencies are well-positioned to take on a larger role in protecting the environment while also allowing for responsible and necessary commerce and energy production. This pick will go a long way towards correcting the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach, which has cost us jobs, hurt farmers, and has had an insignificant effect on the environment.”

John Nothdurft
Director of Government Relations
The Heartland Institute
jnothdurft@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“There is going to be a new sheriff in town at EPA, and that is welcome news for North Dakota’s agriculture and energy issues. Attorney General Scott Pruitt is a principled federalist who has taken the lead in fighting federal overreach. Our states have been forced into costly litigation with EPA and other regulators simply to protect their sovereignty, and Pruitt has been on the front line. This is a fantastic appointment for those of us in fly-over country, and I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth at EPA from my house.

“This is a strong first step by the Trump administration to roll back the federal overreach and burdensome regulations from the Obama administration. Attorney General Pruitt stood up for consumers facing escalating energy costs, our farmers and ranchers, and our energy industry, and will bring a breath of fresh air to EPA. Well done President-elect Trump!”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
governmentrelations@heartland.org
312/377-4000

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.


“‘Personnel is policy,’ as the saying goes. This nomination strongly suggests that Trump plans to keep his campaign promises to unleash the nation’s energy production and roll back excessive regulations imposed by the Obama administration. That’s good news for energy consumers and the millions of Americans whose jobs depend on fossil fuels, from factory workers to truck drivers.

“The next step after deregulation would be for Trump and Pruitt to close down the EPA and return its powers to the states, who have been doing the real work of environmental enforcement during the 40-plus years of the agency’s existence. That would give the nation’s energy sector and overall economy a huge boost.”

S.T. Karnick
Director of Research
The Heartland Institute
skarnick@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“Humanity has been in sore need of protection from would-be protectors. Maybe it is coming at long last.”

Christopher Essex
Professor, Department of Applied Mathematics
University of Western Ontario
essex@uwo.ca
312-377-4000


“The appointment of Scott Pruitt should usher in an era of less regulation of the nation’s energy supply. Deregulation would mean a boost to the nation’s energy supply, lower prices and a much needed stimulus to business activity.”

Jack A. Chambless
Economics Professor Valencia College
jchambless@valenciacollege.edu
312/377-4000


“The appointment of Scott Pruitt is a good first step at draining the swamp at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under President Obama, EPA has become the fourth branch of government, seeking to gain control of nearly every aspect of American lives. This news is good for the nation’s farmers and ranchers, manufacturers, and energy producers.

“The appointment signals a sharp contrast between the Trump and Obama administrations and will be good news for anyone who gets their hands dirty at work, as President Trump will encourage companies to build things in America, whereas President Obama regulated companies out of business.

Isaac Orr
Research Fellow, Energy and Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
iorr@heartland.org
312/377-4000


“President-Elect Trump’s appointment of Scott Pruitt is a breath of fresh air. No longer do we have to suffer under President Obama’s ridiculous EPA “climate” regulations. It is also refreshing that a Republican president is not throwing EPA over to the green activists and the media by appointing a weak administrator. Christine Todd Whitman he is not!

“Trump’s pick of Pruitt means that a Republican president is finally standing up the green establishment! Historically, EPA chiefs have been the most liberal cabinet members appointed by past Republican presidents from Nixon through Ford, Reagan and both Bushes. Trump has broken the cycle!

“No longer do we have to endure GOP presidents avoiding battle over the green agenda by picking EPA chiefs that who were timid at best. We know how bad GOP EPA picks have been in the past because the former GOP EPA heads all endorsed President Obama’s EPA climate regulations!

“If anyone was worried about Trump’s meeting with former vice president Al Gore earlier this week, the pick of Pruitt is reassuring. Basically Trump listened to what Gore had to say and then he exercised his good judgement and did the exact opposite.

“Kudos to Trump for standing up to the well-funded climate establishment by picking Pruitt!”

Marc Morano
Policy Advisor
The Heartland Institute
Morano@ClimateDepot.com
312/377-4000

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Problem Solvers Caucus: Create 250,000 jobs, balance the budget, secure American energy

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — No Labels on Monday hosted its much-anticipated 1787 bipartisan leaders meeting focused on constructing the peace after a historically divisive election. Featuring panel discussions and private meetings, the event notably included a closed door gathering of almost 50 members of Congress along with over 100 No Labels supporters discussing the shape and focus of an emerging Problem Solver Caucus on Capitol Hill.

With extreme elements in both the Democratic and Republican parties reluctant to cooperate with each other, members said the Problem Solvers Caucus aims to be a vehicle for bipartisan cooperation—particularly on the issues of tax reform and infrastructure investment—in early 2017.

“After such a divisive election, it has never been more important for leaders to actually lead; to resist the pull of partisanship and start focusing on what is best for the country,” said No Labels co-chair Joe Lieberman. “That’s exactly what the Problem Solvers Caucus did today, when they visited No Labels and discussed their plans to create a new stabilizing center of influence in our Congress.”

Many members of the Problem Solvers Caucus had previously signed a resolution (H.R. 207) calling for both parties to come together to make progress on the four goals in No Labels’ National Strategic Agenda:

  • Create 25 million jobs over the next 10 years
  • Secure Social Security and Medicare for the next 75 years
  • Balance the Budget by 2030
  • Make America energy secure by 2024.

These goals set a vision for where the country needs to go. With a new president and Congress about to take office, members of the Problem Solvers Caucus will aim to play a pivotal role in enacting policies that advance these four goals.

“The message from the 2016 election was clear: People have had it with business-as-usual politics. They want real solutions reflective of Americans whose voices are too often lost in the noise of special interest partisanship,” said No Labels co-chair Jon Huntsman. “Today, the members of the Pro blem Solvers Caucus made a bold statement and a welcome commitment to do the people’s business and to work with both parties to deliver the durable, lasting solutions America so badly needs. They are to be commended as this is what leadership looks like.”

The No Labels 1787 meeting came on the heels of a significant pledge from supporters of No Labels to fund a $50 million Super PAC in the 2018 election cycle with the explicit purpose of supporting problem solvers and defeating obstructionists in congressional primaries. This will be far and away the most ambitious campaign effort ever to protect the political center.

1787 also featured:

  • Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, interviewed by the Financial Times’ Gillian Tett, on the rise of populist movements around the world and the global imperative to reclaim the center.
  • Trump Economic Transition Team Leader Anthony Scaramucci on what to expect from a Trump administration in the first 100 days, including perspectives on tax and trade issues.
  • Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Oklahoma City Mayor and Head of U.S. Conference of Mayors Mick Cornett and former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitmanon local and federal cooperation.
  • Senators Roy Blunt, Steve Daines and Joe Manchin along with Representatives Kurt Schrader, Ami Bera and Peter Welch and former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson on where President-elect Trump will need to work most closely with Congress.
  • No Labels co-chairs Gov. Jon Huntsman and Sen. Joe Lieberman on the shape of the New Center in American politics

ABOUT NO LABELS

No Labels exists to bring America’s political leaders together to solve our nation’s toughest problems. We are a citizens’ movement forging a New Center in American politics that fights for an inclusive political process and supports policies that advance No Labels’ four core values of Opportunity, Security, Ingenuity and Accountability. No Labels has inspired the creation of an emerging Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus—featuring House Democrats and Republicans—committed to working constructively across the aisle to get things done.

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Obama Isn’t Just Attacking the Dakota Access Pipeline, He’s Attacking the Rule of Law

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

A month ago, I wrote:

President Barack Obama just took the rule of law, crumpled it up, and tossed along a riverbank in North Dakota.

He continues to treat the rule of law like wastepaper by putting up another (likely temporary) blockade in front of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

On Sunday, the Army Corps of Engineers refused to issue an easement to allow pipeline construction under the Missouri River, declaring it will “explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing.”

In June, the Corps approved the easement but didn’t finalize it.

What changed was the pipeline became a symbolic issue for anti-energy, “Keep it in the ground” protesters, like Bill McKibben. Since this summer, thousands have encamped on federal land in North Dakota and have been ordered to leave by December 5. According to local law enforcement, these protesters are “armed, hostile” and not peaceful, and they inspired attacks on other pipelines in four states.

In September, a federal judge saw that proper procedures were followed in allowing approving the project and refused to stop it. But the Obama administration immediately pressed the pause button. Two months later, President Barack Obama telegraphed what the Corps just did by saying the pipeline should be re-routed—even though a federal judge noted that the pipeline’s path was modified 140 times and would run adjacent to a natural gas pipeline that’s been in the ground for over 30 years.

What’s interesting is the Corps never admits that it shouldn’t have approved the pipeline in the first place. It states:

[T]his decsision does not alter the Army’s position that the Corps’ prior reviews and action have comported with legal requirements.

In other words, the review process was followed correctly–just like a federal judge confirmed months ago. Nevertheless, the Corps (i.e. the White House) arbitrarily changed its mind.

Business and Labor Unhappy

Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the DAPL, called the move, “a purely political action,” adding:

This is nothing new from this Administration, since over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office.

Both business groups and labor blasted the decision.

Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st  Century Energy, said:

The Obama administration sent a clear message: if your special interest-funded protest is loud enough and has enough celebrities tweeting their support, then the rule of law and the facts no longer matter.

Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, called the decision, “short-sighted, gutless, and irresponsible.”

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Administration Attacks the Rule of Law

This action certainly was a thumb in the eye to the rule of law. To borrow from Professor Richard Epstein, the rule of law is a set of “known, consistent, and certain rules” that are applied in a neutral manner by the government. It’s one way our society functions.

There’s an implicit agreement: Government establishes a process for getting permission to build a major infrastructure project like a pipeline. If businesses follow those rules it should be assured of a definitive, rational decision. Both business and government function as partners.

Energy Transfer Partners spent years talking to local residents and Native American tribes. They worked with governments at all levels to demonstrate that the pipeline would be safe. They negotiated with private land owners to build the pipeline on their land. They made changes to the pipeline to protect the environment and culturally-sensitive lands.

The company followed the rules, only to have the Obama administration pull the rug out from under them to placate anti-energy activists like McKibben who thinks a modern, 21st Century economy can function without access to abundant energy.

Changing the rules in the middle of the game is fundamentally unfair, the AFL-CIO explained in November:

Once these processes have been completed, it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.

Uncertainty Has Consequences

Such decisions have ripple effects–mostly unseen. Other companies are watching.

They know that what’s happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline can just as easily be done to a natural gas pipeline or an electric power line –even if it links to a wind or solar farm. Any type of energy infrastructure investment is at risk from ad-hoc agency decisions that reject the rule of law.

Such uncertainty has consequences. Fewer needed energy projects will be attempted because the regulatory and permitting risk is too high.

As a result, it will be harder to move energy from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. That means higher costs for families and factories. It also means higher transportation costs for energy producers, less investment in production, and fewer jobs created in the sector.

Hopefully this could be a fragile, temporary win for the anti-energy crowd. A Trump spokesman said the incoming administration supports the Dakota Access Pipeline and will review the Corps’ decision once it takes office next January.

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Nevertheless, it’s a bold reminder that how we permit infrastructure projects needs serious reform. The first place to start is having a White House that stops playing politics with our infrastructure needs while respecting the rule of law and the fairness and certainty it provides.

MORE ARTICLES ON: ENERGY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near in New Salem, North Dakota. Photo credit: Tony Webster. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

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Muslim Brotherhood linked CAIR and ICNA oppose Dakota Access Pipeline

Two Muslim Brotherhood linked organizations, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) are vigorously opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Why would organizations that claim to defend Muslim civil rights oppose a pipeline that will help America’s economy and energy independence?

The Dakota Access Pipeline will deliver up to 570,000 barrels of oil per day from American oil fields to American refineries.  The pipeline will increase America’s energy independence and decrease the cost of fuel products.  See full report on Dakota Access Pipeline.

Energy Transfer Partners, the company handling the 1,172-mile and $3.78 billion project, had received all state and federal approvals except for a short section under the Missouri River in North Dakota.  However, mounting opposition alleging that the pipeline will ruin American Native sites and water quality influenced President Barack Obama to order the Army Corps of Engineers to halt construction on the pipeline to look for another route for the final part of the pipeline which goes under the Missouri River.   Eight other pipelines already cross the Missouri River.

The Council on American Islamic Relations opposes the Dakota Access Pipeline:

  • CAIR Oklahoma joined in the protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline in October 2016.    CAIR Oklahoma press release states “Representatives from Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma and Black Lives Matter were in attendance, expressing their support for indigenous communities and the struggles they face.”
  • CAIR Minnesota joined in the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in November 2016.
  • The Council on American Islamic Relations issued a press release on December 5, 2016 titled CAIR welcomes denial of easement for Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Islamic Circle of North America sent out the following email blast on December 1, 2016:

Take Action Today
Call President Obama & Governor of North Dakota!
Thursday, December 1, 2016

The case of water protectors in North Dakota is getting worse and worse by the day. The pipeline, which would carry oil from western North Dakota to Illinois, would cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. The tribe — and the “water protectors” protesting alongside — say the pipeline would trammel on sacred lands and could contaminate the local drinking water supply if it leaks or ruptures. Stopping DAPL is a matter of climate justice and decolonization for indigenous peoples.

Police used a range of potentially lethal weapons against peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock: tear gas, rubber bullets, concussion grenades, mace, and water cannons. With temperatures well below freezing, the use of water cannons has afflicted many with hypothermia—not to mention the physical pain from being blasted with high-pressure water.
Let’s call President Obama and demand that he give an executive order to permanently stop the pipeline.

Let us also call the Governor of North Dakota, Jack Dalrymple, to not allow any blockage on food and supplies coming into the camp. On Tuesday, after the governor ordered the camp evacuated and a winter storm swept in, officials said they would begin blocking supplies.

The protesters vowed to stay put. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday that the public will not be allowed in areas being used to protest after December 5th and that anyone found on the property will be considered trespassing and subject to prosecution.

President Obama is acting on leftist politics to delay completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The pipeline was supposed to be completed in December 2016.   Thankfully, President Elect Donald Trump supports that Dakota Access Pipeline.  However, liberal progressives are already asserting that Trump cannot take a position on the pipeline because he owns stock in Energy Transfer Partners who is developing the pipeline.

On November 28, 2016 North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple ordered the pipeline protesters to leave.  Two days later the Islamic Circle of North America sent out their call to action email targeting Governor Jack Dalrymple.

Florida Family Association has prepared an email to thank North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his efforts to put an end to this disruptive protest that is hindering America’s economy and energy independence.

To send your email, please click the below link, enter your name and email address then click the “Send Your Message” button. You may also edit the subject or message text if you wish.

Click here to send your email to thank North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his efforts to put an end to this disruptive protest that is hindering America’s economy and energy independence.

Contact information:

North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple
governor@nd.gov

EDITORS NOTE: To learn more click here: Dakota Access Pipeline

The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

VIDEO: Students ask me anything about The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels

A few months ago, Professor Ed Ireland of Texas Christian University asked me if I would do a remote Q&A with his Energy MBA students, all of whom had read The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels.

I am always grateful and excited when professors assign The Moral Case so I agreed, asking students to bring their toughest questions. The result is a wide-ranging discussion that I think you’ll find interesting. If you do, please share it with others

VIDEO: Alex Epstein Q&A with TCU Energy MBA class.

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The Real Reason We Have Ethanol in Our Gas by William O’Keefe

To get enough votes to pass the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, Democrats led by Henry Waxman made a deal with the corn lobby.  In exchange for its support, Congressman Waxman committed to an oxygenate provision—essentially a mandate to blend corn derived ethanol into gasoline.

As a way of disguising this requirement, Congress wrote the oxygenate provision in a way that made it part of a formula for gasoline—government gas.  Section 211 (k) of the Clean Air Act spells out in detail specific component levels for gasoline.  Just think, lawmakers acting like chemists, telling refiners how to make gasoline.

Prior to the passage of the 1990 Amendments, it was clear that initiatives to improve air quality would mean that tailpipe emissions would become more stringent.  In anticipation, the oil and auto industries undertook the most extensive fuel-engine research program ever conducted.  The objective was to determine the most cost-effective ways to meet lower emission standards and to provide research based data that could be used by government.

Since the mandate went into effect, almost 26 years ago, its cost has been about $200 billion or more.

The two industries briefed Congress on the research and made one primary request:  set emission standards to achieve Clean Air Act objectives but give the two industries the freedom to determine how best to achieve them.  That request was rejected because of a deal with the corn lobby.

Ever since then, motorists have been stuck with higher fuel costs and lower mileage, and consumers have been stuck with higher food prices. Corn production has continued to increase and Congress expanded the mandate to include specific volumes.  The cost of the ethanol mandate has been documented extensively as has the lack of real environmental benefits. In 2015, the Manhattan Institute published a report—The Hidden Corn Ethanol Tax—that concluded that in 2013 the mandate cost consumers $10.6 billion. Since the mandate went into effect, almost 26 years ago, its cost has been about $200 billion or more.

President-elect Trump has pledged to “drain the swamp.”  The ethanol mandate is a good place to start because it may be the most visible and lasting example of how crony capitalists create Baptist and Bootlegger schemes to enrich themselves with taxpayer dollars.

Ethanol manufacturers have perfected championing the environment with corn farmer support for both to get richer.  Bringing the ethanol mandate to an end would send a clear signal that campaign promises to take on crony capitalists was more than just rhetoric.  Changing the Washington culture has to break the link between special interests, lobbyists, lawyers, the alliance between Bootleggers and Baptists.

Republished from Economics 21.

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A new strategy for the fossil fuel industry to ‘win hearts and minds’

Ever since I became passionate about fossil fuels 9 years ago, I have regarded the fossil fuel industry as a crucial potential ally in winning hearts and minds. I say “potential” because historically the industry has often done more harm than good for its cause–which is really the cause of everyone who care about human flourishing.

The dominant message from industry has been: “Yes fossil fuels are a self-destructive addiction that should be replaced with green energy–but unfortunately it will take us many decades to get off the addiction.”

This message is unpersuasive–and it is false.

Through my research I have found that if we look at the full context of our energy choices by the standard of human flourishing, it is morally necessary for humanity to use more fossil fuels, not less. And through my experimentation with different persuasive approaches. I have found that if we reframe the conversation to always focus on human flourishing and the full context(instead of minimum impact and out-of-context attacks) many people will be won over.

Since I started speaking to industry four years ago about the moral case for fossil fuels I have gotten increasing interest from companies and associations who wanted to incorporate my approach to framing the issues.

I have very much wanted to help them because the upside potential of a confident, persuasive industry is enormous–and the downside of an apologetic, unpersuasive industry is also enormous.

But it has taken several years to figure out how to help companies and associations in a way that is scalable–a way that can positively influence many different groups instead of just working with one or two.

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In the last year, I have developed my most effective tool yet, which I call the Stakeholder Strategy Session. If a company has a communications goal that I believe can make a significant influence in the public debate, I spend a day with executives and communicators developing a fundamentally new strategy based on the proven principles of reframing the conversation along with other key principles of persuasion.

The core of the Stakeholder Strategy Session is a deep dive into the 9 fundamental questions of communications strategy–or, as I sometimes call them, “The 9 Ms”:

  1. Mission: What exactly are we trying to accomplish?
  2. Metrics: How will we measure success?
  3. Markets: What markets or audiences are we trying to persuade?
  4. Messages: What messages will persuade them?
  5. Methods: What methods of explanation will persuade them?
  6. Messengers: Which messengers will be most persuasive to them?
  7. Materials: What form-factors will be most effective?
  8. Media: What media will the messengers deliver the message through?
  9. Money: What is your budget, and why?

Once we spend a day examining these questions I perform an analysis and suggest several strategic options in each category.

The reason why this tool is so powerful is that it generates the best direction and creative ideas at the outset of a project. As Steve Jobs said many times, even a small difference at the outset of a project makes a huge different as it runs its course:

“If you set a vector off into space, and you change its direction just a little bit at the beginning, the difference is dramatic when it gets a few miles out in space. If we can nudge it in the right direction, it will be a much better thing.”

In my experience, our reframing principles and other principles are much more than a “nudge”–they are often the difference between significant impact and no impact (or negative impact).

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Trump Transition Recommendations on Energy, the Environment and Education

My apologies, as I try to avoid bothering people over the weekend — however this is extremely important.

FYI I have some connections to the Trump transition team, and (as you can tell from news stories), things are moving along quite quickly.

I’ve made up a list of some major issues that need addressing, in the 3-E areas where I’m primarily focusing my efforts: Energy, Environment and Education.

Some of What Needs to Be Fixed in Three E’s

Energy

  1. Change national energy slogan to: “All of the Sensible”
  2. Terminate special renewable subsidies (e.g. PTC and ITC)
  3. Change grid rules that give wind and solar favorable treatment
  4. Cancel the “Clean Power Plan”
  5. Eliminate (or fundamentally change) NREL
  6. Constrain FERC’s unscientific bias towards renewables
  7. Fix the NDAA so that military has better protections from turbines
  8. Allow US nuclear plants to use reprocessed fuel
  9. Fast-track Thorium (LFTR) reactors as an energy source
  10. Fast-track Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as an energy source
  11. Approve Yucca Mt as an acceptable repository for used nuclear fuel
  12. End all ethanol subsidies and favoritism
  13. Seriously investigate Deep-Drilled Geothermal as an energy source

Environment

  1. Appoint a balanced Science Committee to hash out the AGW issue
  2. Challenge and reverse Supreme Court Massachusetts vs EPA case
  3. Make EPA’s basis for Endangerment Findings genuinely scientific
  4. Send the Paris Agreement to the Senate for ratification
  5. Eliminate the Sea Level Rise (SLR) provision in Biggert-Waters-12

Education

  1. Substantially revise Common Core (with focus on real Science)
  2. Pass a reasonable School Choice measure
  3. Do a much better job with Vocational Education
  4. Reduce federal funding to any college that politicizes Science

Across the Board on the 3 E’s

  1. All three of these federal agencies should be redefined and reduced
  2. Review all recent Executive Orders/Memoranda. Change as needed.
  3. Require that all technical policies be genuinely Science based
  4. Weaken the influence of lobbyists on legislators
  5. Reduce the reliance on computer models

Please review my draft version of this list and let me know:

  • Any suggested improvements/additions to the list, and
  • Any recommended people you have to head the DOE, EPA, or Dept of Ed.

I’ll update the list as new key items are forwarded, so periodically check it.

PS: As one of my teachers was fond of saying “I’m just a little clog in a big wheel” so what will result from all this is anyone’s guess. However, from what I’ve heard so far, I’m cautiously optimistic. I also believe that when faced with a problem, doing something is better than doing nothing.

PPS: As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and on your social media sites. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you’d like to be taken off the list, simply send me an email saying that.

awed environmental news

Trump election good news for science-based energy advocates

The election of Donald Trump (along with the Republican Congressional majority) may be the good news that science-based energy advocates (e.g. wind warriors) have been waiting for — for years now. For example, there is now a good chance that the wind energy PTC will be terminated!

This is like turning a super-tanker: it will take awhile for things to pan out. And make no mistake about it, the forces of entitlement will not go down without major fights. FYI, I’ve put together a few observations pertaining to the election (ranging from Science to computer models), and its consequences .

The latest Energy and Environmental Newsletter, is now available online.

Some of the more interesting energy articles in this issue are:

Gov’t Study: Wind Turbines Cause Sleep Loss, Stress, and Anxiety

Video: Infrasound — What You Are Not Being Told

What if the US had to pay EU energy prices?

Wind Project Ecological Assessments Fail to Reduce Risk of Bat Killings

Epstein’s University Energy Talk and Q&A

America Needs More Nuclear Power, Not Less

Wind an even Bigger Boondoggle than Ethanol

Wind Energy: Our Least Sustainable Resource

Some of the more informative Global Warming articles in this issue are:

Brexit2 Signals the End of the Green Age

What Happened to Climate Science?

University Stole Millions from Taxpayers by Faking Climate Change Research

“Global Warming” or “Climate Change”?

Peer Review — Why Skepticism is Essential

1920s Brit ‘fatally infected’ All Government Climate Models

Deaths Caused by Climate Change

Study: Does the World Need Climate Insurance? No

Myron Ebell Perfectly Suited for EPA

PS: As always, please pass this on to open-minded citizens, and on your social media sites. If there are others who you think would benefit from being on our energy & environmental email list, please let me know. If at any time you’d like to be taken off the list, simply send me an email saying that.

PPS: I am not an attorney, so no material appearing in any of the Newsletters (or our WiseEnergy.org website) should be construed as giving legal advice. My recommendation has always been: consult a competent attorney when you are involved with legal issues.

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President Obama Just Made the Dakota Access Pipeline Situation Worse

KEY TAKEAWAY

With a few words to a reporter, President Barack Obama just took the rule of law, crumpled it up, and tossed along a riverbank in North Dakota.

Here’s what he told NowThis about the recent actions by his administration and the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline:

I think, right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. So we are going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved.

This was “resolved” months ago, after state and federal agencies signed off on the project.

The point of the rule of law is to protect rights by having a known, understandable, and certain process.

The pipeline’s builders, Energy Transfer Partners, did what they were supposed to do: They worked with state and federal regulators, applied for the appropriate permits, held local hearings with people concerned about the project—including Native American tribes—and spent years making adjustments to the pipeline’s route after hearing concerns—140 times in North Dakota alone(!) to preserve cultural sites and minimize environmental harm.

After following the rules, all state and federal permits were acquired (including from the Army Corps of Engineers). Energy Transfer Partners was awaiting a final easement from the Army Corp to go under the Missouri River, so building started.

Only then did anti-energy extremists rile up people to protest the pipeline by setting up camp near its construction, chaining themselves to equipment, and regularly confronting law enforcement, security guards, and construction workers.

We’re more than three-quarters through the game and President Obama thinks it’s okay to pull a Lucy and yank the football away from billions of dollars of investment and thousands of jobs by changing the rules of the game. We’re long past the point of no return for a project that went by the book.

For reaction to the president’s comments, here’s Rob Port, a North Dakota blogger who has been covering the story for months:

It’s worth keeping in mind that almost the entirety of this pipeline traverses private land. “In fact, DAPL needs almost no federal permitting of any kind because 99% of its route traverses private land,” Obama-appointed federal judge James Boasberg wrote in his September opinion rejecting arguments against the pipeline from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

It’s actually more than 99 percent. It’s like 99.8 percent. Just 0.2 percent of this pipeline is on federal land.

But Obama, apparently, thinks that 0.2 percent gives the federal government the authority to re-route the 99.8 percent of the pipeline on private property.

Pipeline supporters also weighed in.

“While a reroute sounds simple enough, it is in fact incredibly difficult, time intensive, costly and may actually be impossible,” said Craig Stevens, spokesman for the Midwest Alliance for Infrastructure Now. “It would require new easements, new environmental and cultural studies, and hundreds of millions in additional costs.”

Stevens added, it also puts future energy infrastructure projects as risk: “It would send the signal to other companies seeking to invest in the U.S. infrastructure that the country is closed for business. Because no company would invest the billions of dollars necessary to complete the already time-consuming and onerous regulatory process only to be subject to a re-review in the latter stages of construction and shut down.”

This is an important point. Over the next few years we’ll need all types of energy infrastructure. Renewable energy supporters should be worried at Obama’s words and actions. It’s not just about oil and natural gas infrastructure. Long-haul electrical transmission lines require similar permitting and public comment periods as pipelines. Often, they run into local objections.

When federal agencies upend the results of a fair regulatory process, everyone suffers.

Under this Obama administration precedent, a transmission line supplying customers with electricity from solar or wind that made it through the permitting process could be “rerouted” by presidential decree.

Don’t expect reliable energy supplies in that kind of environment. It doesn’t matter how much energy abundance you have, if you can’t get it to where consumers can use it—which is exactly the point of the extremist protesters. “There’s no reroute that doesn’t involve the same risks to water and climate,” Sara Shor, 350.org’s Keep It in the Ground campaign manager is quoted by The Hill.

Back to the rule of law. A letter from 22 pro-energy groups last month to the administration, including the Institute for 21st Century Energy, cited John Adams who wrote the United States is a “government of laws, not of men.” The letter continues:

This North Dakota project has complied with the procedures laid out in law, engaged in more than two years of federal review and has received the necessary federal approvals.

The previous decisions now being “reconsidered” were properly considered and made through a fair and thorough process on which the company and others are entitled to rely. In our “nation of laws,” when an established legal process is complete, it is just that—complete.

When your agencies upend or modify the results of a full and fair regulatory process for an infrastructure project, these actions do not merely impact a single company. The industries that manufacture and develop the infrastructure, the labor that builds it, and the American consumers that depend on it all suffer.

The AFL-CIO also understands the importance of abiding by a fair and certain process:

We believe that community involvement in decisions about constructing and locating pipelines is important and necessary, particularly in sensitive situations like those involving places of significance to Native Americans. However, once these processes have been completed, it is fundamentally unfair to hold union members’ livelihoods and their families’ financial security hostage to endless delay.

Along with damaging the rule of the law, with his words, the president has emboldened extremists like Bill McKibben who reject all fossil fuels use and pour fire on an already volatile situation.

In North Dakota, cars have been burned, explosive projectiles have been launched, shots have been fired, and hundreds of people have been arrested. (92% arrested have been from out of state, according to the National Sheriff’s Association.) Along the pipeline’s route in Iowa, millions of dollars of construction equipment has been destroyed.

This is chaos, and it could continue for “several more weeks.”

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been unnecessarily politiziced. Unfortunately, the president’s words and actions have only made things worse.

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North Dakota Sheriff: Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters Are ‘Hostile,’ ‘Armed,’ and ‘Not Peaceful’

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

If the Obama administration thought their actions to halt part of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline would calm things down in North Dakota, they were mistaken. If anything, protests have intensified.

Dozens of people have been arrested by local law enforcement, and the Mercer County Sheriff Dean Danzeisen, bluntly stated to the Obama administration, “These are not peaceful protestors.”

They are armed, hostile, and engaged in training exercises which can only be intended to promote violence, whether on Corps property or elsewhere. These rioters have left Corps and Standing Rock property on multiple occasions and travel several miles to enter private property to assault employees, private security personnel, and damage property that will take millions of dollars to repair. A number of these individuals have been observed brandishing weapons.

One anti-pipeline protester went on a local North Dakota radio show to talk about “lawlessness” he saw taking place inside the camps.

A union leader in North Dakota spoke to local North Dakota radio about the hostile environment created by pipeline opponents for those working on the pipeline:

Pam Link of the Local 563 chapter of the Laborers International Union of North America was on air with my colleague Jay Thomas on 970 AM WDAY. She spoke with Jay about the issues the pipeliners are going through with the #NoDAPL protests.

She painted an ugly picture, describing one incident where a worker filling up his truck at an area gas station was “beaten” by masked protesters.

“I wish people could imagine the situation our union workers have been put in,” she said, adding that hundreds of the workers are from right here in North Dakota.

“No one should have to be going to work threatened and put in an unsafe position,” she added.

Link said workers routinely show up at their work sites along the pipeline routine to find equipment damaged. Not that they get much of a chance to address the damage. She also said workers are routinely run off by protesters just a couple of hours after starting their work days.

There are a “handful of workers who have left the job,” Link said, though added that most of the workers are sticking and want to get the project completed.

This hostile environment has expanded and is affecting farmers and ranchers far from the pipeline’s route. Doug Goehring, North Dakota’s Commissioner of Agriculture, told North Dakota blogger Rob Port, the protests are anything but peaceful:

He said farmers and ranchers in areas even as far away [sic] as 20 or 30 miles from the protests are feeling “frustration, fear, anxiety, and tension.”

“It’s just like living down in an area that seems like a battle zone,” he said.

“These are innocent people who are caught in harm’s way,” he added.

He said he’s spoken to farmers and ranchers from the area who have sent their children to live in the Bismarck/Mandan area during the protests because they don’t feel safe. He said ag producers are having troubles harvesting their crops or tending to their cattle because of the protest activities and the law enforcement response they provoke.

In one instance he said he spoke to a farmer who lives 20 miles away from the main protest area who had a protester chain himself to a light pole in his farm yard.

“This is terrible,” he told me.

It should be noted that one of the protesters’ key talking points–that the pipeline will destroy cultural artifacts–has been upended. North Dakota State Historical Society’s archaeologists have found no evidence of cultural items on the pipeline’s route.

Both the energy industry and labor unions turned up the volume on the administration’s delay of Dakota Access Pipeline.

The presidents of the International Union of Operating Engineers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Laborers’ International Union of North America, United Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers sent a letter to President Barack Obama demanding that he “stand up for American workers” and allow construction to continue, NBC News reports:

The unions, which collectively represent 3.5 million workers, said the weeks-long halt in construction of the pipeline at Cannon Ball, North Dakota, had caused “hardships for thousands of families.” The unions said 8,000 of their members are currently working on the $3.7 billion project.

“The intervention by the Departments of Justice, Interior, and the U.S. Army to indefinitely halt a project that is more than halfway constructed and has received state and federal approval raises serious concerns about the future of infrastructure development in America, and the livelihoods of our members,” the group wrote in a one-page letter.

The energy industry reinforced labor’s points. On a press call, the American Petroleum Institute’s Robin Rorick warned that Obama administration actions threatened the rule of law saying it set “a dangerous precedent for other non-oil and gas projects like roads, bridges, tunnels and electricity transmission lines.”

Last month, Matt Koch at the Institute for 21st Century Energy also noted it is “also unfair to the communities along the pipeline route that support the project, and all Americans who stand to benefit from increased energy and economic security once the project is completed.”

Both industry and labor reminds us that the pipeline went through years of reviews at the state and federal level that included many opportunities for the public and interested groups to offer input. Permits were lawfully approved under that thorough process.

When asked to issue an order blocking pipeline construction, federal Judge James Boasberg looked at the facts and concluded the Army Corps of Engineers followed proper procedures and bent over backwards to gather input from the public, including Native American tribes who could be affected. He denied issuing an injunction, yet an hour later, the Obama administration chose to halt construction near the protest area, putting us in the situation we’re in.

The United States is a nation of laws. This administration should stand up for the rule of law, law-abiding construction workers, and local communities and not extreme anti-energy groups.It should stop impeding this necessary energy infrastructure project.

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What If… America’s Energy Renaissance Never Actually Happened?

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How To Succeed In The Wind Energy Fight

I was asked to speak as a NY town board meeting this week. They were quite interested in how to best protect their community from the threat of a proposed wind project. This is a condensed version of what I said…

Since an industrial wind project is something you may have to live with for 20± years, it seems wise to carefully, objectively, and thoroughly investigate this matter, ahead of time

After working with 100± communities throughout the US, my conclusion is that your absolute best and first line of defense, is a well-written, protective set of wind energy regulations.

The focus of these regulations should be to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community.

These regulations can be in a stand-alone law, or part of a more comprehensive zoning document. (Where they appear is significantly less important than their content.)

Note that writing these regulations is not about excluding wind energy development — but rather it’s about protecting the citizens, small businesses, the economy, the military, and the ecosystems of your community.

So, how do you go about creating proper wind energy regulations? Well, you have two very different choices…

1 – Option One is to figure out what needs to be done, on your own. 

Since this is an extremely complex technical matter (with wide-spread ramifications), you’ll need to find the following local people: physicist, electrical engineer, civil engineer, acoustical engineer, physician, financial PhD, hydro-geologist, ecologist, bat expert, ornithologist, EMF expert, real estate appraiser, and last but not least, a technically competent lawyer. That would be your team.

In addition, each of those local people need: 

a) to have an interest in this matter, 

b) to be supportive of citizen rights, and 

c) to have the time available to assist the community. 

After you’ve collected these experts (that meet those three qualifications), make sure to also allow for at least a year to do research, to have multiple meetings, etc., etc.

The fundamental question is: do you have all those resources in your community, and the time? 

If you are missing any of those experts (or don’t have the time), the wind regulations that result will likely leave you not properly protected, and very vulnerable to a wind project getting built…

2 – Option Two is to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you.

Many are not be aware of it, but some 250 communities in the US have had to deal with industrial wind energy. Every case is different, but a few were fortunate enough to have the necessary cross-section of experts living nearby. Some were proactive, so they had the luxury and time to do more research. Etc.

In any case, in every one of the 250± other communities, there are lessons to be learned — both what to do, and what not to do. One of my beliefs is that it rarely makes sense to reinvent the wheel — and particularly not in a complex technical matter like industrial wind energy.

That’s the point of my free citizen advocacy service, and my website (WiseEnergy.org), and my monthly Newsletter (which now has some 10,000 readers). All of these are intended to sort out, and then pass on to you, the best ideas out there. 

As we announced several months ago, to help those who want to go the Option Two route, we are advocating a model local wind law. (The explanation and supporting data behind it is found on the Key Documents page of our website.)

When all is said and done, it’s your community — so it’s your call how to deal with any proposed wind project. 

We’ve simply tried to make it easier to be successful in dealing with this extraordinary challenge — by giving you the Science perspective, and by sharing with you some of the wind energy experiences of numerous other communities.

Let me know any questions you have, or suggestions to improve our services by leaving a comment below.

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‘Uncivil’ Disobedience is Name of the Game for Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters

KEY TAKEAWAY

Passions haven’t simmered down at a North Dakota construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Energy opponents continue to use water and cultural concerns to mask their true, anti-energy agenda.

One of those national leaders, Jane Kleeb, who fought the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, wants to replicate her “success” in North Dakota. Only her idea of success means less energy for her fellow Americans.

And Bill McKibben, who equates fighting energy development with world war, wants to turn the Dakota Access Pipeline into a presidential campaign issue.

The involvement of a man who has written, “We have to keep 80 percent of the fossil-fuel reserves that we know about underground,” shows us what this protest is really about.

It isn’t about water or cultural concerns. It’s about making it so hard to get energy from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed that production stops. “Block the infrastructure, block the development,” Rob Port wrote last month.

It’s simply a “keep it in the ground” strategy involving arrests and destruction.

McKibben, Kleeb, and their friends don’t like the shale boom at all and want to take us to a fantasy world where fossil fuels aren’t used. But that’s ignores history. These energy sources have lifted billions of people out of poverty, fueled our economic prosperity, and allowed so many of us to live healthy lives. Abandoning politically incorrect energy will leave many of us living shorter, harsher, more-miserable lives.

Blocking energy infrastructure like the Dakota Access Pipeline holds America back at a time when we’re enjoying an energy renaissance, as Matt Koch of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy explains:

Yet we run the risk of losing the advantages due to the politicization by environmentalists of the pipeline and transmission line projects needed to move energy to where it is needed. Many areas in the U.S. are already missing out on the full benefits of our energy revolution because it has been difficult to move our energy from where it is produced to where it is needed.

Along the pipeline’s construction route, August was marred with arson and threats of violence—all the while law enforcement and security personnel displayed tremendous patience and restraint.

Officer Helps #NoDAPL Protester Eat, Drink

Things continued to be ugly over the Labor Day weekend, NPR reports:

In a statement, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said protesters marched from their encampment onto private lands, where the pipeline is being constructed.

“Once protestors arrived at the construction area, they broke down a wire fence by stepping and jumping on it,” the sheriff’s office said. “According to numerous witnesses within five minutes the crowd of protestors, estimated to be a few hundred people became violent. They stampeded into the construction area with horses, dogs and vehicles.”

Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said it “was more like a riot than a protest.”

Protesters hit dogs with sticks and clashed with security guards, and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein acted very unpresidential by vandalizing construction equipment. A warrant for her arrest has been issued.

An important detail to this is construction is happening on private land, not on a reservation.

[To get up to speed on the issue, The Bismarck Tribune has a timeline of past stories.]

Tensions are so high that the National Guard will provide backup for law enforcement as we wait for a federal judge to rule on injunctions that may or may not delay construction or protests.

UPDATE: A federal judge denied the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for a temporary injunction to stop work on the pipeline.

In the meantime, the protest has turned into a cause celebre. Movie stars make a blurry video supporting the pipeline protesters. Protesters are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars indonations to support a long-term protest: propane; water; food; and blankets.

The Dakota Access Pipeline is expected to create 8,000 – 12,000 jobs, add $156 million in local sales and income taxes, and has the support of business and labor unions.

As I pointed out in a previous post, the effort to stop the pipeline isn’t about protecting water—pipelines have a great safety record for transporting oil and natural gas.

It’s also not about threats to tribal lands. We know this because after going through public records from the Army Corps of Engineers, SayAnythingBlob.com’s Rob Port reports the Dakota Access Pipeline route nearly matches that of gas pipeline already in the ground:

Before reading this report I had no idea there was another pipeline already running through this area, but there is. It’s called the Northern Border Pipeline. It’s a natural gas line built all the way back in 1982, and the Dakota Access Pipeline follows it often, including through the areas currently being disputed by protesters.

This is no mere coincidence. I spoke with Justin Kringstad at the ND Pipeline Authority who told me that the Dakota Access line “generally follows the same corridor” as the Northern Border line, and that this sort of thing is “not uncommon.” It can be easier to get easements and regulatory approval for a pipeline built where another pipeline has already gone through.

Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak also told me that the Dakota Access line “tried to follow wherever possible the Northern Border pipeline.”

The two routes aren’t exact, but through the area where pipeline construction has sparked violent protests the two lines run side by side according to Energy Transfer Partners.

“We parallel this pipeline for about the last 40 miles” leading up to the Missouri River/Lake Oahe crossing spokeswoman Vickin Anderson Granado told me.

So 30 years ago, did protestors knock down fences and damage equipment when that pipeline was being constructed? Were movie stars joining in solidarity with protestors?

No, in fact, as Port notes, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission records show locals didn’t put up much of a fuss:

Northern Border and Natural [pipeline builders] contacted Native American tribes to elicit any interests or concerns regarding construction of the proposed project, especially as it affects any sites of historic, cultural, or religious significance. Northern Border received responses from the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota, the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and the Peoria Tribe of Indians in Oklahoma. The Three Affiliated Tribes expressed concern about the possible existence of archeological sites at Compressor Stations 5 and 7. No other responses expressed any concerns about the project. Natural has received no response from Native American groups.

As for the Dakota Access Pipeline, it has undergone a thorough, public review process that engaged thousands of people in the region.

Yet the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that is leading the protests didn’t attend any North Dakota Public Service Commission hearings on the pipeline. The tribe did meet with the Army Corps of Engineersnumerous times.

Ron Ness of the North Dakota Petroleum Council put it well:

[T]he future of this project is jeopardized by national environmental groups that have latched onto a Native American protest as a last-ditch effort to stop a project that they could not prevent through a regular, orderly review process. These actions attempt to disrupt the very rule of law that was established by these state regulatory organizations.

Energy opponents didn’t like the end result of a public process and so are using uncivil ways to try to stop it.

Their real intentions need to be called out and their uncivil disobedience rejected.

MORE ARTICLES ON: ENERGY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of protesters pinning a security guard against a truck in North Dakota. Photo source: Morton County (N.D.) Sheriff’s Department