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XL Pipeline - New Battleground

Updated on April 1, 2019

Keystone XL Pipeline – Welcome to Reality

From: Rapid City (SD) Journal on 3/7/19.

Keystone XL protest bill package passes through both houses.

Two bills aimed at curbing protests of TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline project sailed through both houses of the South Dakota Legislature on Thursday.

That package now heads to the desk of Gov. Kristi Noem, who introduced Senate Bills 189 and 190 on Monday, weeks after the deadline to introduce bills for consideration in the 2019 legislative session.

SB 189 establishes civil penalties for "riot boosting," or contributing money to or encouraging protesters who engage in violence. SB 190 creates a funding source for extraordinary costs attributed to increased law enforcement at protests, sourced from local, state and federal dollars, as well as contributions from pipeline companies.

Noem's office maintains the bill does not infringe upon First Amendment rights, and that the definition of a riot is already written in state law. Proponents of the bill said it is about holding those that commit illegal acts or incite others to commit illegal acts accountable. South Dakota's American Indian tribes, which have opposed the pipeline's construction since its announcement, were not among those consulted.

The ACLU of South Dakota said in a press release it is "currently weighing all options to ensure the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans are upheld."

The XL Pipeline Protest begins anew. A fresh encampment populated by professional protestors is sure to rise from the ashes of the North Dakota riots in another attempt to stop the inevitable? How will new laws be administered in South Dakota, a state that has been forewarned of the dirty deeds done dirt cheap performed by the protest crowds in North Dakota? Will the ACLU find any traction in their attempt to protect what they feel is every protestor’s right to become violent if the cause is popular enough with those left of center. Will we see the “Hollywood Types” seeking street cred by parading through the boulevards of Kadoka or Gregory with their entourage of entitled minions, looking for publicity?

The stage appears set for yet another epic battle, albeit a cold muddy one. Protestors, bring your pup tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and granola bars and prepare for snow covered fields, record cold temperatures, ultimately followed by a thaw that should produce epic flooding in the area. And here is some advice. Please don’t expect the locals to welcome you with open arms. After years of being called all sorts of names, “mouth-breathers, red-necks, hicks, racists, clod-busters, gun nuts, deplorable’s, etc.” it is unlikely that the famous South Dakota hospitality will embrace your cause. Search inside yourselves before making the commitment to this exercise. From potential camp locations, it is generally a long drive to any store that might provide the most basic of essentials, there are very few quality hotels in extreme rural areas, snow drifting across the roads will stop even those who expect the government to legislate against it and suffering is to be expected. You won’t find cheering crowds surrounding you in a warm meadow, urging you on towards victory.

As a fourth generation Dakotan who watched the North Dakota protest begin with but a few small protest signs and ultimately grow to the size of a small town, I’m aware of the evolution of the revolution. As one who watched as the TV cameras went away, followed quickly by the protestors, I saw the remains of an encampment, formerly filled with environmental activists, that was so filthy and trash covered that heavy equipment was required to remove the leavings, paid for by the State of North Dakota. No cameras remained to tell the story of that ironic conclusion to a protest that stopped nothing.

Protestors should take heart, despite my foreshadowing. Generally, we Dakotans are a stoic silent population who believe in the rule of law, the Constitution and all the rights contained therein. We welcome peaceful protest and differences of opinion even if it deviates dramatically from our own. We honor the spirit of free speech and invite you to bring your protest signs, your encampments, your TV cameras and celebrities. We do hope, however, that this time you bring more trash bags.


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