Coming to a Town Near You? Pipeline Protesters and Their Environmental Destruction
The latest craze for the Keep It in the Ground (KIITG) movement is setting up camps along proposed pipelines routes in an effort to delay or halt the projects — the most infamous of these being the #NoDAPL camps in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). If there’s one lesson to be learned for the #NoDAPL camps, it’s that these protesters leave behind big environmental messes and add to already burdened municipal budgets that taxpayers are forced to pay for.
Unfortunately, #NoDAPL copycat camps are now being set up across the country. And as was the case in North Dakota, these protest camps are not comprised of locals protesting a pipeline in their community — they are predominantly made up of protesters that travel from state to state looking for the next camp to call home, with the goal of disrupting at any costs including illegal activities that end in arrest. In fact, Morton County, N.D., Sheriff’s Office reported that from Aug. 10, 2016, to March 7, 2017, North Dakota authorities arrested 709 protesters, with one-third of them having prior criminal records and 94 percent being from out of state.
Despite claims that these protests are to “protect the environment,” protesters have left behind major messes in North Dakota and a bill totaling around $38 million that will be paid by state and federal taxpayers. From SayAnythingBlog’s recent interview with a North Dakota Highway Patrolman:
“The thousands of activists who flocked to North Dakota trespassed on private land, vandalized private property, and used violent and intimidating tactics against law enforcement and the public. And then they left, failing to clean up hundreds of abandoned cars and literally tons of garbage.
With the spring melt of record-setting snowfalls meaning the flood plain the camp was established on will almost certainly flood, there is an ecological disaster in the offing.” (emphasis added)
And now they are moving that path of destruction into other states, blocking pipelines that collectively will provide over 176,000 direct and indirect jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact. Here’s where the #NoDAPL and other anti-fracking protesters have gathered since leaving North Dakota:
Texas – Trans-Pecos Pipeline
In Texas, camps were set up along the 148-mile Trans-Pecos Pipeline with many of the protesters traveling to the area from North Dakota. As Fuel Fix reported in December,
“The coalition said it would soon gather at a winter camp in hopes protesters from North Dakota would move south.”
The largest of these activist camps — Two Rivers – announced at the end of March that it would be shutting down after their 13 “direct actions” that resulted in police intervention were unsuccessful in stopping the construction of the pipeline. To give an idea of the type of people these camps attract, one of the protesters at the camp is a convicted rapist who not only served as a security guard at the camp — but helped organize a learning experience for young kids from Colorado. He also used an alias due to the fact he had fled California while on parole to join the anti-pipeline movement. Organizers of the camp defended him despite these facts.
The camp now has less than a dozen people, with some moving on to new camps protesting hydraulic fracturing in another part of the state. According to Fuel Fix, many plan to head to Kansas next to protest the Keystone XL pipeline — but ironically, they are going to need donations for gas money to get there.
In contrast, Trans-Pecos’ estimated economic impact looks like this:
- $7.1 million will be paid in total annual ad valorem taxes to the three counties traversed, as well as additional revenue to local communities
- 350 construction and labor jobs
Pennsylvania – Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline
Pennsylvania is currently the site of two campaigns aimed at delaying and stopping pipelines from crossing the Commonwealth. These efforts do not align with the majority of Pennsylvanians’ views on the Marcellus industry, as Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“A majority of Pennsylvania residents support natural gas development and the use of fracking, according to several statewide polls conducted in the past five years. Since 2012, a fee on natural gas wells has generated a billion dollars in revenue for the state. There are more than 12,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines in Pennsylvania.”
In February, protesters began a camp where they built two structures to “disrupt construction” of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline and hold weekend training meetings. Funding for the camp is anything but local, with at least a portion — $22,000 — coming from Lush, a British cosmetics company.
The Wall Street Journal reported that organizers want to try to prevent some of the things they saw happen when they “made the 1,500-mile drive from Lancaster County to Standing Rock over Labor Day weekend.” From WSJ:
“In Lancaster, protesters won’t be allowed to wear masks as many did at the North Dakota protests, local organizers say. Malinda Clatterbuck, an associate pastor at a Mennonite church who sleeps at the Lancaster encampment several times a week, along with her husband and two daughters, said the group won’t allow tactics that could hurt their cause by turning off local supporters.”
Despite these claims, the organizers welcome former #NoDAPL protesters to make the trek to Pennsylvania. State Impact reported when the camp began,
“Protesters from other states, including groups involved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s protest against the Dakota Access line, have also voiced support. ‘Outsiders are fine, we want them too,’ says activist Tim Spiese.”
After only about a month of the camp being up and running, the organizers recently announced the camp would no longer be open during weekdays and consist of weekend-only training sessions only. Arrests have already been made for direct action against the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.
In contrast, Atlantic Sunrise’s economic impact looks like this:
- $1.6 billion increase in economic activity across 10 counties
- Estimated 2,300 direct construction jobs
- 6,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs through support services
- $245 million in income generated from new labor
- Around $50 million in new state and federal tax revenue
- $859 million in total value-added impact to Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania – Mariner East Pipeline
The other Pennsylvania camp is protesting the Mariner East 2 Pipeline in Hunterdone County. Organizers of Camp White Pine in Hunterdon County recently sent out a call to action, asking for more people to come support their cause, playing off the #NoDAPL strategy. Also similar to #NoDAPL — which raised over $12.5 million, none of which has gone to clean up their mess – organizers have donation campaigns going to try to raise money to help them stay in the camp.
In contrast, Mariner East’s economic impact looks like this:
- $4.2 billion in total economic impact
- 30,100 jobs
- $1.9 billion in labor income
Kansas/Nebraska – Keystone XL Pipeline
Protesters announced shortly after the March approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline that camps similar to those seen in North Dakota will be set up along the pipeline’s route through Kansas and Nebraska. As the Washington Times reports:
“[c]ritics say the guerrilla warfare tactics used to hold up the Dakota Access project will be seen again.
“We fully expect to stand united and to continue resistance and carry forth the fire of mobilization … in the fight we saw against the Dakota Access pipeline to this next project here,” he [Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network] continued.”
The Atlantic reported,
“We do expect resistance camps along the path of the Keystone pipeline,’ said Dallas Goldtooth, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. These camps attracted great public attention throughout the summer and fall, when a similar tactic was used among Sioux-affiliated nations to reject the Dakota Access pipeline.”
And as The Atlantic also reports, national KIITG groups have already started planning their delay tactics:
“’This project is going to be fought at every turn,’ said Bill McKibben, a co-founder of the climate-activism group 350.org and one of the first organizers of anti-Keystone protests.”
In other words, folks along the pipeline’s route can expect similar crowds, scare tactics and environmental destruction to what their neighbors in North Dakota already witnessed.
In contrast, Keystone XL’s economic impact looks like this:
- 20,000 direct jobs and an additional 118,000 indirect jobs for American workers
• Total estimated property tax in the first full year of operations is about $55.6 million spread across 27 counties in three states
• Sales and use taxes revenue from the construction is approximately $66 million
• Expected to contribute approximately $3.4 billion to the U.S. GDP
These pipelines projects are a response to the increased consumption of domestically produced oil and natural gas across the country. They take years of planning, permitting and impact studies, and they are bringing economic benefits and jobs to the communities along their paths.
The protesters, in an attempt to stop all oil and gas development, are simply traveling from one camp to another with no consideration for the local population or environment despite claiming that’s who and what they are protecting. If #NoDAPL is any indicator, it’s the local communities and the state as a whole that will be left cleaning up their messes.