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Other Views: Lawless, bullying 'Keep It in the Ground' tactics fail

GRAND FORKS—No, the Dakota Access Pipeline is not going to cross sacred ground, as the presence of an existing pipeline in the previously dug-up corridor proves. Yes, the Standing Rock tribe had lots of chances to influence the pipeline's route during the two-year-long permitting process.

No, the pipeline will not unduly threaten the Missouri River, any more than it will the James River, Big Sioux River, Des Moines River and Mississippi River, which it will also cross.

As two federal courts have confirmed, pipeline supporters have the better of the original anti-pipeline arguments.

But what about the more radical argument that's prompting civil disobedience—the notion that America's approach to oil has to be "keep it in the ground"?

That one's losing big, too, in the courts of both public opinion and climate science. Which is why some activists now are monkey-wrenching the pipeline works.

They're failing at persuasion, so they're turning to coercion, the signature tactic of fanatics around the world.

After all, if the "Keep it in the Ground" strategy was what the science demanded, you'd think President Obama's top science advisor would have gotten the word. But no: "The notion that we're going to keep it all in the ground is unrealistic," said John Holdren, a Stanford PhD and former professor of environmental policy at Harvard, in June.

"We are still a very heavily fossil-fuel dependent world."

You'd think former NASA scientist James Hansen would have been clued in, given Hansen's unparalleled influence and activism since 1988. But no: "Suggesting that renewables will let us phase rapidly off fossil fuels in the United States, China, India or the world as a whole is almost the equivalent of believing in the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy," Hansen said in 2013.

You'd think Obama himself might be a supporter, given the president's access to the world's top scientists. But no: "Barack Obama said at the premiere of Leonardo DiCaprio's new climate change film that keeping fossil fuels in the ground isn't practical, and that we have to accept fracking as a way to cut emissions because 'we have to live in the real world,'" The Guardian newspaper reported.

By the way, Obama made that statement not in 2008 or 2009, but last week.

And you'd think Hillary Clinton would have joined the ranks, given her history of Democratic Party leadership. But no: "Hillary Clinton dismissed climate activists in withering terms during a meeting with labor unions last year, saying the environmentalists pressing her to renounce fossil fuels should 'get a life,'" reported Friday.

One thing's for sure: It's time for the anti-pipeline activists to take off their masks, hang up their bolt cutters and just start talking to people again. Because nobody likes a bully, and the activists' lawless tactics are alienating even their high-placed allies. That's never a good sign for a cause.