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Will Gov. Noem Protect Women Keystone XL Man Camps? Probably Not.

Governor Kristi Noem and other pious South Dakota Republicans thinly veil their misogynist agenda by expressing deep concern about sex trafficking.

Why, why, why, then, does Governor Noem continue to contort South Dakota’s laws to open South Dakota’s lap wider to the Keystone XL pipeline, which brings with it a clear and present danger of more abuse of women? The pipeline would be built by roving hordes of men housed in 1,200-bed man camps across the plains. As the South Dakota Water Management Board heard at last week’s hearing on the water permits pipeline builder TransCanada/TC Energy needs for its project, hordes of men mean harm to women:

Opponents raised concerns about leaks like the one that occurred in North Dakota in November, the rights of Indian tribes being violated and rises in crime, including human trafficking, around labor camps connected to pipeline construction. They are arguing that the board must also consider if granting the permits is in the public interest for the people of South Dakota.

…One of the most dramatic parts of the hearing came when one Native American witness from California described how she had been raped, trafficked and harassed by men who moved into her community to work in the cannabis industry. She attributed the attacks to a “ripple effect” of violence from a large influx of men.

Several activists pointed to studies that showed a rise in crime and human trafficking during the Bakken Oil Field boom in North Dakota and questioned TC Energy’s witness on how crime will be mitigated [Stephen Groves, “Water Permit Hearing for Keystone XL Extended into New Year,” AP via Minneapolis Star Tribune, 2019.12.20].

Now if I’m Kristi Noem, I file that second paragraph in my brief book for the impending debates on legalizing industrial hemp and medical marijuanaCannabis leads to violence against women!

But when it comes to her favorite Big Oil project (and Noem and her party do love anyone who moves a lot of oil), expect the Governor to take the “Boys will be boys” attitude of TransCanada/TC Energy’s construction manager:

Greg Tencer, an expert witness who is managing the pipeline construction, said the company works with law enforcement and hires additional security for the camps. He told the board there is a possibility with an increase in crime and said, “We’re all human, so it’s a factor” [Groves, 2019.12.20].

When man camps endanger women, the proper response is not “We’re all human.” The proper response is to declare that instead of trying to find ways to bankrupt grassroots anti-pipeline activists by making them pay for law enforcement, South Dakota will charge pipeline companies to put a hundred extra cops on patrol around the man camps to make sure they don’t go raping and pillaging.

But with meth, Governor Noem sees victims right in front of her but does nothing to help.


  1. Mike Rea 2019-12-23 11:35

    Maybe Governor Noem should spend a couple of weeks in the camps ?

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-23 12:44

    I think it would be a very good idea for Governor Noem to visit some current pipeline construction site and get a sense of the problems such projects bring. It would also be good for her to invite the witness who testified at the WMB hearing to visit the Governor’s office and talk about her experience. Maybe the Governor would reconsider shutting down the voices of protest against the pipeline.

  3. Debbo 2019-12-23 17:59

    “We’re all human, so it’s a factor”

    Is he serious?!? He’s saying, yup, crime will take off. Oh well. Shrug.

    The GOP is the party that’s holding up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in DC. Meanwhile, Klueless Kristi and the SDGOP are trying to stop the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Misogyny = GOP.
    What a bunch of hateful people.

  4. mike from iowa 2019-12-23 19:00

    and rises in crime, including human trafficking, around labor camps connected to pipeline construction.

    The state would do well to limit these migrants from entering South Dakota.

  5. Porter Lansing 2019-12-23 19:03

    What do guards at the camp do? I worked in the oil patch in Gillette in the early 70’s. The trafficking happens in town at the bars, at night. Every camp is by a town. Every town has a bar. Every bar has the opportunity for women of the evening to come in for drinks. It’s town cops, county sheriff’s, and undercover agents that have the responsibility to ameliorate the situation. Undercover agents stand out like a sore you know what, in a town of a thousand or less.

  6. grudznick 2019-12-23 21:25

    grudznick knows not about these camps of men, if they are not deer camp, but a wise word of advice to ladies would be to just stay away from the man camping. Stay away, I advise.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-24 10:25

    Debbo, when it’s men building a pipeline, crime will happen, so don’t get in their way.

    When it’s brown people coming to America, crime is a national emergency, requiring that we build a wall.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-24 10:26

    Porter, how about in addition to extra police in and around the camps, we require every pipeline worker to pre-register with the Secretary of State and wear a badge?

    Maybe we should assign a highway patrolman to shadow every pipeline worker on the job site and around town and camp… in order to protect them from all those marauding protesters.

  9. Donald Pay 2019-12-24 10:59

    The greatest civilizing force in the world, and it’s been proven time and time again, is the human female. You get a large bunch of men isolated from women for very long and some sort of trouble will occur. This is the problem with fraternities, with gangs and with, for example, those four young gents who went about bashing cars in Aberdeen. Men can be trained to have male group cohesion that is more or less rules-based. The military does this. Some companies try to do it. Unions used to be pretty good at it, but studies have found that the most successful union organizing occurred in established communities, where families resided, rather than mostly male mining camps.

    Here would be my suggestion, assuming this travesty is actually built: require any company to hire women in equal proportion to the men, and/or to hire folks from the general area so the males could go home often.

  10. Debbo 2019-12-24 14:25

    Cory, your suggestions for “protecting” those poor guys are great. Don’s advice to hire locals is best.

    I think tough and strictly enforced laws against any type of violence against women would be most effective. I suggest women judges, prosecutors, jurors and cops.

  11. happy camper 2019-12-27 08:59

    Oh lord I missed this post. What about the horde of bicycle riders or roaming groups of migrants? If someone else had written about the dangers of 1,200 women Cory would attack with vengeance but in this case he even receives support from The Loyal. If you really believe a group of people can be so harshly judged based on one shared characteristic then you’ve just given full approval for others to do the same justified by their fears. The hypocrisy is astounding. Are you so lost in politics you’ve given up your value system?

  12. Debbo 2019-12-27 21:22

    The Warrior Women are doing much more than Klueless Kristi to protect their sisters from the man camps. This is truly courageous, remarkable and touching. I will campaign for any one of these women for governor, as we all should. She’d be magnificent!

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