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Keystone protesters come to North Dakota

Rob Port | Shale Plays Media Contributor

This last week President Barack Obama made a rare Presidential visit to North Dakota – just the 14th time a sitting president has come to the state – and an even rarer visit to Indian Country. His visit to the Standing Rock reservation was just the 4th time a sitting President has visited a Native American reservation.

Seeking to horn in on the auspicious occasion were a group of protesters organized by Bold Nebraska, an anti-Keystone pipeline organization.

A handful of the protesters – observers on hand put the number between six and a dozen – set up at Cannon Ball Crossing, a convenience store near the town of Cannon Ball where the President would be delivering his speech. This was also, not coincidentally I’m sure, a staging area for the media covering the event.

This was, I’m pretty sure, the first anti-Keystone protest to take place on North Dakota soil. If there has been another one, it wasn’t large enough to pop up on this North Dakota observer’s radar.

Related: Sanctions can’t beat new oil opportunities

That’s a significant fact when considering the import of the anti-Keystone movement. In North Dakota, where rails and highways are packed with trucks and rail cars moving oil from the Bakken formation, the importance of pipelines is understood. We know the oil is going to be pumped. Private mineral rights owners have every right to develop their property. What’s more, the nation needs the oil.

For better or worse, our economy runs on the stuff.

We also know that pipelines, while not perfect, are the safest way to move the oil. Pipelines don’t cause highway pileups. Pipelines, unlike rails and highways, mostly avoid populated areas. Pipelines don’t derail and explode.

Which brings us back to that protest staged here in North Dakota by a group from Nebraska. It was small in number, and seemed to consist mostly of professional activists who traveled from outside of the state to hold their signs and shout their slogans. Few locals joined their ranks.

They got their media attention – reporters rarely go to great lengths to put into perspective how tiny these sort of protests usually are – but in general the anti-Keystone movement doesn’t seem to have a lot of traction in North Dakota.

Maybe because here we know the oil has to be moved, and we’re in favor of the safest way of doing it.

If only that sort of pragmatism would infiltrate the anti-Keystone movement.


  1. apparently not our stupid president!

  2. Even with this trouble in Iraq, they are protesting? Thy must not have seen gasoline prices this week since they were riding Warren Buffet’s BNSF?

  3. When I Was In College, The Only Keystone I Knew About Was Keystone Light! Hahaha! Bakken.Com Is So Informative!

  4. bet they were all driving gas guzzling suv’s

  5. This pipeline will not lower our gas prices you won’t be able to trans port bakkens crude and tar sand crude n the same pipeline 2 totally different products

  6. I agree that the oil needs to be moved but to use the subtle “anti railroad” condescension is getting really old with you die hard pipeline nuts. There’s enough oil to keep all methods of transportation busy so bring on the pipelines and bring on the trains. Competition between transport mediums drives lower prices which most likely (hopefully) benefits the consumers in the end.

  7. This article is not a news story, not journalism, but only an opinion piece by the author. I used to favor the pipeline too. And then one day I learned what they are actually going to transport in the pipeline. It is not regualar oil like the author would like us to believe. It contains all the yummy stuff the oil that exploded and blew up killing forty some people in Quebec contains. Toxic heavy metals, radioactive substances, sand or dirt particles from fraking, and all the solvents they dissove petroleum in such as iso=octane, some yummy formaldehyde like they srote biological specimens and aborted fetuses in. HIgly reactive, too much propane, and more. The reason the cars blew up is they had leaks, and the reason they leaked was due to an industry that did not adequately test the product and knew nothing about what iit was shipping. Highway gridlock took place after the 7 acre Tioga pipeline disaster, leaking for years perhaps, when the State authorized the company to light the match and destroy the evidence.

  8. seeing as how this oil from keystone will be refined in texas and sent to china, i would say the best way to ship it would be a PIPELINE in csnada from the oil fields to their west coast and thrn to china ….OOOPS that CANT be done the Canadian people wouldn’t ALLOW it…. I know ….we will send it through America …that will be easier …just offer them money….no problem

  9. What kind of written guarantee do you give that land owner in writing?

  10. But yes I agree it’s one of the safest ways

  11. People who complain about the oil STOP driving your car and no heat in winter oil pipeline will be fine really they haul it on two rail and make it fine

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