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].
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.