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ANDERSEN: Omdahl should check his facts first

Those of us at BNSF Railway are compelled to respond to Lloyd Omdahl's latest column ("Pipeline delay perpetuates rumor mill"). We are in no way connected to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Until this column, ridiculous rumors to the...

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Zak Andersen

Those of us at BNSF Railway are compelled to respond to Lloyd Omdahl's latest column ("Pipeline delay perpetuates rumor mill"). We are in no way connected to protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Until this column, ridiculous rumors to the contrary were limited to fringe posts on social media. For a statesman like Omdahl, one would hope he'd first check the facts.

Putting aside Omdahl's other points on the controversy, when it comes to the railroad, it can be definitively declared BNSF is not paying protesters. BNSF suffered property damage from pipeline protesters on our railroad near Mandan. While we respect people's rights and expect a fair and objective process for all infrastructure projects, we do not condone violence or the willful destruction of property. Trespassing on private railroad property is not only illegal, but dangerous as well. We have been working with law enforcement to ensure that no one continues to put themselves or others in harm's way around rail infrastructure.

Our railroad and our 2,000 employees who live and work in North Dakota are proud of the role we are playing in getting the state's crude oil to markets around the country. Without our robust railroad network across the state, this valuable commodity and the resources it brings would be trapped. As this pipeline or any other is completed, we believe rail will always provide a valuable transportation option. Just as it always has for connecting North Dakota commodities to the world. Ultimately, the market will determine how crude oil moves. We'll continue doing our part, investing in our railroad to serve all of our customers in North Dakota.

It is disheartening for our employees to be subjected to these absurd rumors and irresponsible for those repeating them rather than checking the facts. There is no conspiracy here. We are a 150-year-old railroad proud of our contribution to the state's economy and we'll continue that partnership.

Andersen is the Vice President Corporate Relations for BNSF Railway.

Related Topics: LLOYD OMDAHL
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