The State-Tribal Relations Committee met in Rapid City Wednesday to discuss, among other things, “Riot Boosting, Joint Powers Agreements, and Taxation.” That first issue in particular is of keen interest to South Dakota’s several tribes and the Noem Administration, which suffered an embarrassing defeat in court over its rushed “riot boosting” law this fall but now plans to revive its push to stifle protest and boost oil pipelines. The State-Tribal Affairs Committee thus put Governor Noem’s Tribal Relations Secretary on Wednesday’s agenda.
Flute said three months ago he accepted invitations from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other groups to discuss meth, law enforcement and other issues impacting reservations at meetings being held during the Lakota Nation Invitational.
“I can’t be in three different places at once,” he said.
But [Rep. Shawn] Bordeaux told the Journal that that’s not an excuse and that the committee would have let Flute drop in to speak any time he had a break in his day. He and [Sen. Lance] Russell also said they would have been happy if Flute or Noem’s office had sent anyone who could represent their perspective [Arielle Zionts, “State-Tribal Relations Group Scolds Noem Administration for Not Attending Meeting,” Rapid City Journal, updated 2019.12.19].
Governor Noem, who had time to fly to Washington, D.C., Monday to talk about fireworks with Donald Trump, did not have time to send a replacement or fly out to Rapid herself to speak with legislators about her pipeline and protest priorities or to offer her thoughts on the bill draft the committee is advancing to charge pipeline companies $2.50 per mile times ten cents per barrel of maximum daily capacity each year to fund pipeline spill cleanup. On Keystone XL, that would be 313 miles × $2.50 × 900,000 barrels × $0.10 = $70,425,000. At an average 2019 West Texas Intermediate price per barrel of $56.69, TransCanada/TC Energy would be able to pay that fee with less than a day and a half’s worth of Keystone XL flow.
Senator Russell grieved the Governor’s absence, but Team Noem protested they are being entirely open about their renewed effort to crush dissent and flak for foreign pipeline companies:
He said he wants advanced and transparent communication between the executive branch, legislature and tribes when it comes to pipeline issues to avoid what happened last year when the riot boosting package was introduced last minute and passed with little debate after a suspension of the legislative rules before parts of it were deemed unconstitutional.
“The manner in which it was handled last year was inappropriate,” Russell said.
Wileman said Noem is doing exactly what Russell wants.
“The governor’s staff has been monitoring the committee meeting today” and has been “beyond transparent in her draft pipeline legislation,” Wileman wrote. Noem “has asked for input from tribes, legislators, stakeholders, and the ACLU. This approach is highly unique and not usually done.”
“The governor’s office is committed to answering any questions legislators have about pipeline legislation, but we can’t be everywhere at once,” she said when asked why no one from Noem’s administration attended the committee meeting [Zionts, 2019.12.19].
Noem has given legislators, tribal leaders, and state’s attorneys a packet with updated riot-boosting language for their review and comment by January 10. The ACLU points out that Noem’s packet makes the false claim that the federal court rejected antiquated criminal law and not Noem’s own hastily drafted and railroaded anti-protest legislation. Facts like those are easier to point out in a public hearing of a Legislative committee than in back-channel document exchanges… which is probably why Noem didn’t want Flute or any of her other lackeys to appear before the committee on Wednesday.