April 17th, 2017

While I continue to post daily updates on important stories concerning the Dakota Access Pipe Line under the Keep Carbon In The Ground banner, two stories popped up this morning that I feel deserve front-page treatment. The first concerns our governor John Richard Kasich and his decision at the beginning of November 2016 to send 37 Ohio State Troopers to confront protesters at Standing Rock.

Carrie Blackmore Smith, reporting in Kasich: I sent Ohio troopers to assist with security at Dakota Access Pipeline for the Cincinnati Enquirer writes:

As his administration continues to withhold details about the roles 37 troopers played at the pipeline protest in North Dakota last fall, Ohio Gov. John Kasich confirmed last week that he approved sending them.

“They can’t go there on their own, they have to ask me,” Kasich said, referring to Ohio State Highway Patrol, during an April 10 meeting with The Enquirer’s editorial board.

It might seem obvious for this power to rest with the governor, but until Monday, Kasich’s office had not provided a straight answer as to who authorized the mutual aid trip.

Ohio governors do not have a great track record when the topic of deploying force against protesters. That, perhaps, is why Gov. Kasich is hesitant to let Ohioans know what those 37 troopers did in our names.

As the highway patrol has refused to release details and records about Ohio’s role in the situation, tensions have grown.

The state denied requests for information from both The Enquirer and the Columbus Dispatch, based on claims by state lawyers that the officers were undercover and providing security in a situation that could “prevent … or respond to acts of terrorism.”

Troopers undercover at Standing Rock? Experts say no.

Since then, videos have emerged of troopers spraying the protesters with chemicals and arming themselves before rushing in riot gear, in their state-owned cars, to clashes with protesters.

Last month, the Dispatch learned officers had used force against protestors.

A record was released “showing that a review by superiors found that the troopers’ use of force on the protesters was appropriate and within patrol policy,” according to the Dispatch article.

The state contends, however, that the public is not entitled to know either the frequency or type of force used, despite recommendations for transparency issued by the Ohio Collaborative Police-Community Advisory Board in 2015. The advisory board was organized with an executive order by Kasich, in response to clashes in Ohio and around the nation between police and the public.

When force is used in our names, we absolutely have the right, the obligation to know what our elected officials are doing and how that endangers all our lives.

Which brings me to the lie-fest that is the Presidency of Donald John Trump. Writing in Bold promises, fewer results: Trump’s executive orders don’t always live up to his claims, the Los Angeles Times‘ David Lauter reports:

It’s been one of President Trump’s favorite boasts since he took office: By his order, new oil and gas pipelines built in the U.S. will be made from American steel.

As is often the case, Trump has wrapped the claim into an anecdote he often repeats. Referring to his orders to revive the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects, Trump recalled last month that he interrupted the signing to ask, “Who makes those beautiful pipes for the pipeline?”

“Sir, they’re made outside of this country,” came the response.

“I said, ‘No more, no more.’ So we added a little clause—didn’t take much—that [if] you want to build pipelines in this country, you’re going to buy your steel, and you’re going to have it fabricated, here. Makes sense, right?”

The story has proved effective with Trump’s audiences, but it’s not an accurate description of what he did. It took the White House only a couple of weeks after the signing to acknowledge that the “Buy America” rule would not apply to Keystone. That would be unfair, officials said, because TransCanada, the company building the line, had long ago bought its pipe, some of it made in the U.S., and the rest in Canada, Italy and India.

Even so, White House officials have insisted that all future pipelines will be covered.

That’s not true, either, according to government documents and interviews with officials in the affected industries.

The actual number of pipelines covered by Trump’s Buy America rule could well be zero.

I have to remember this story the next time I encounter a Trumpist wearing a Make America Great Again hat.


  1. Scott M says:

    Finally cleared up the mess at the riot, removed the garbage and lets get the oil flowing. More people need more fuel for heating, food production etc etc. The new pipeline joins the other 4 already crossing the river, this one buried even deeper.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good morning Scott,

      First, thank you for stopping in, for reading and, most importantly, for taking the time to enter the conversation by writing a comment.

      Second, I don’t know if you live in Ohio or not, but here in my home state we border on a natural resource far more precious than fossil carbon: potable water. The Great Lakes contain 5 percent of the world’s—yes, the world’s—supply of potable water and here in Cuyahoga County we get most of our drinking water from Lake Erie. Imagine for a moment the outcry we would have here if an oil company decided to build a pipeline under the lake (not a terribly difficult engineering feat since Lake Erie is the shallowest of the five lakes) which would threaten our drinking water. The Dakota Access and XL pipelines threaten water supplies in our breadbasket, the Midwest. These pipelines have a record of leakage and outright spillage. We don’t have farmland that we can just write of for a generation or two so that fossil fuel corporations can get richer.

      Third, in recent years we have become a net exporter of fossil fuels and the carbon sludge forced through the Dakota Access, XL and other pipelines from shale fields will not benefit Americans (or affect gasoline prices at all) but rather go to exports to places like China. Why should we risk our livelihoods so that China can improve their position as a global power? Exporting fossil fuels, far from making America great again, actually diminishes our position of strength in the world.

      Fourth, alternative energy has already made coal obsolete—despite our president’s campaign promises, coal jobs will never come back, a reality voiced by the heads of coal companies—as a resource and petroleum (as well as natural gas) will follow. By continuing to shore up of our aging and inefficient fossil fuel infrastructure while allowing the Chinese (and others) to take the lead in the production of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources threatens our position in the world for the sake of the portfolios of a handful of billionaires.

      Finally, if we are maintain our place in the world, we must look to the future, not the past, and adopt an America First policy with real teeth. Allowing the destruction of our collective home for the benefit of the 0.1 percent is not America First or, in any way, a policy liable to restore some imaginary halcyon era.

      Do all you can to make today a better day,


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