ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Port: There has to be a finish line for pipelines

MINOT Zeno of Elea was a Greek philosopher famous for his paradoxes, among them the idea that it's impossible to ever truly arrive anywhere. According to Zeno, if you wanted to travel from Fargo to Bismarck you would first have to travel half of ...

2240384+].jpg
Rob Port

MINOT

Zeno of Elea was a Greek philosopher famous for his paradoxes, among them the idea that it's impossible to ever truly arrive anywhere.

According to Zeno, if you wanted to travel from Fargo to Bismarck you would first have to travel half of the distance between the two cities, and then half of the remaining distance, and then half of that distance, and on and on into infinity so that you never actually arrive in the state capital.

It's called the dichotomy paradox, represented mathematically as endless series of divisions, and while we all know that travel from Fargo to Bismarck is entirely possible one could say that this thought exercise describes perfectly what the process is like for building a major interstate oil pipeline in America today.

Always traveling, but never arriving.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Keystone XL pipeline project, which would have capacity for roughly 100,000 barrels per day of North Dakota crude oil, was derailed by interminable regulatory review from the Obama administration.

The Sandpiper pipeline project, which could potentially carry 375,000 barrels per day of North Dakota crude to Superior, Wisconsin, was similarly strangled by red tape in Minnesota.

Now the Dakota Access pipeline project, which could carry as much as 570,000 barrels per day out of North Dakota, has been waylaid by decidedly unpeaceful protests organized by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe together with a conglomerate of anti-oil environmental groups.

These groups aim to keep oil in the ground and feel one of the best means to that end is to inhibit the buildout of major oil transport infrastructure. So they mobilize their protesters to physically obstruct pipeline construction while they file lawsuits and demand injunctions and generally push for the sort of endless regulatory review which has choked other pipeline projects to death.

In that lays the paradox of their position. They are using processes intended to ensure safe and responsible pipeline construction to block the building of any pipelines at all.

Which, in turn, exposes how pointless it is to subject the Dakota Access line to further legal or regulatory revel to satisfy people who won't be satisfied by any level of scrutiny which results in permission for the pipeline to proceed.

All reasonable people are in favor of a thorough and robust regulatory process for projects as massive as the Dakota Access pipeline, particularly which includes involvement from all impacted communities including the Native American tribes.

But what we cannot countenance is the creation of a sort of regulatory paradox wherein we try to make a proposed oil pipeline satisfactory to people who do not want oil to be drilled for, pumped, transported, or used.

ADVERTISEMENT

We cannot allow small factions of political extremists a sort of heckler's veto over critical infrastructure. There should be an exacting regulatory process for pipelines, but there should also be a finish line for that process.

Once a proposed pipeline crosses that finish line that should be it, with no more political or legal delays.

Related Topics: DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
What To Read Next
The Dickinson Press Editorial Board stands with the wild horses and calls on the National Park Service to extend public commentary period
“From the Hawks’ Nest” is a monthly column by Dickinson State University President Steve Easton
"Life is a team effort no matter what, and greed puts you out on a lonely limb," writes Kevin Holten.
"Our life of faith is a life with God. And that makes all the difference," writes Boniface Muggli