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Smith Sees Keystone XL Protestors as Disease Vectors; What About Pipeline Man Camps?

Bob Mercer reposts Senator Lee Schoenbeck’s notes on the Governor’s Thursday night conference call with legislators about the action coming on our amazing, historic, online Veto-Plus Day. As usual, Schoenbeck’s commentary is enlightening.

I focus on just one aspect of the Lake Kampeska Senator’s jottings, his notes on Brookings Senator VJ Smith’s concerns about Keystone XL pipeline protests and the coronavirus:

Sen VJ Smith asked first question about affect of pipeline construction on medical facilities in pierre, chamberlain and winner’s health care if protestors from around country bring virus. Gov said she’s talking to the company [Senator Lee Schoenbeck, quoted in Bob Mercer, “S.D. Legislators Post Reports About Call with Governor Planning Final Day of 2020 Session,” KELO-TV, 2020.03.27].

Senator Smith raises a valid question: given that we are quite sensibly shutting down schools and businesses to prevent gatherings of more than ten people within six feet of each other, could we shut down a public gathering of picketers demonstrating against Keystone XL or any other object of protest?

Remember, Governor Kristi Noem has declared a statewide state of emergency, which gives her the power for the next six months to restrict travel into, within, and out of the entire state and to disperse any gathering anywhere in South Dakota. So the short answer is, yes, the Governor could shut down any protest in the state for the next six months, even if it’s just three hippies sitting on the hood of their Prius out somewhere in Jones County making armpit-fart noises in the general direction of the Black Snake construction crews.

But wait a minute: what about those construction crews? Those fellas will come from a variety of states in big groups to fell our trees, slurp our water, and wink at our women. And hundreds of them will gather in crowded man camps with temporary hygiene facilities. Hundreds will swarm the bars and restaurants and grocery stores of rural communities that aren’t used to seeing a lot of visitors.

If you ask me, Keystone XL is turning into one giant disease vector driving right through West River. How can we fret about possible pipeline protestors coughing and sneezing on us while welcoming the pipeline builders and all their cooties?

We’re taking a lot of actions in response to coronavirus that are of questionable Constitutionality. Whether the Governor can order any crowd of citizens assembled peaceably to disperse is an extremely sensitive question. But if she can exercise that power for the sake of public health, she can’t pick and choose whom she disperses, especially not if that picking and choosing is based on what those assembled are saying. If Senator Smith sees a public health risk in citizens gathering to protest Keystone XL, he must see an equal health risk in people gathering to build Keystone XL.

If Senator Smith and the Governor are worried that Keystone XL protests could lead to the spread of coronavirus in South Dakota, they can support one simple, Constitutional action: suspend the Keystone XL construction permit for the duration of the coronavirus state of emergency.

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  1. jerry 2020-03-29 09:28

    These are all non essential workers and should be sent home, like in other countries.

    “All non-essential workers in Spain must stay home over the next two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced in a press conference on Saturday.
    Spain’s government will halt all “non-essential” activities from Monday March 30 as a means of stopping as many Spaniards as possible from leaving their homes and risking infection.

    Sánchez told journalists the new legislation will be passed on Sunday in an extraordinary meeting of Spain’s Council of Ministers and apply to non-essential workers until Thursday April 9, the day before Good Friday.

    All affected employees in Spain will receive paid leave and will be able to make up lost work hours over an extended period of time when the isolation period ends.”

    We here are about 2 or 3 weeks behind Spain and a month behind Italy. So we can see what’s coming. The sooner the better to shut it down to keep the hospital bed space for local yokels.

  2. John 2020-03-29 09:54

    Cities that reacted earliest and strongest had the strongest, quickest economy recovery after the Spanish Flu. Present day NYC is the US COVID-19 epicenter, likely in large part, assisted by Mayor DeBasilio’s blase’ early refusal to take social distancing seriously.

    Many of the Baaken oil field crews are or will be laid off since the Baaken is the high-cost producer. Furthermore, many of those workers come from Washington State, a hotbed of COVID-19. Hopefully, the Standing Rock’s Tribe recent court victory for an re-environmental review will set-back any construction until after the application of COVID-19 vaccinations.

  3. John 2020-03-29 10:20

    Lessons from how Gunnison Colorado beat the Spanish Flu are instructive for communities subject to invasions from pipeline workers.

    Margaret Atwood reminds those of us who came after the Spanish Flu, that we were in the midst of pandemics before.
    “So here we are again, I thought when the present pandemic began: drowning in Doubt, Ignorance, and Misgivings, surrounded by invisible evil germs that may be lying in wait anywhere, especially on elevator buttons; except that this time they aren’t shown in pictures as imps with horns, but as colourful and attractive tufted pompoms. But like those whimsical things that look cute at first but can take over your body in sci-fi films, these pompoms can kill.”

    It is AMAZING our collective public health offices’ FAILURE in allowing the anti-vaxx nonsense to get out of hand. Good grief, even before this nation’s founding, our leaders afflicted themselves and their families with the pox to inoculate from small pox. Reaganism along with anti-science-ism must not see the light of day again.

  4. grudznick 2020-03-29 10:55

    I’ve seen those three long-haired hippies denting the hood of their beater volkswagon out there by Murdo and the local county mounty was eyeballing them from a distance. It won’t be long and they’ll be carted off, as they should be. Everybody eat a hearty breakfast this morning, take out from The Mud Hole recommended, so you are ready for the long days ahead.

  5. grudznick 2020-03-29 10:57

    Mr. H is righter than right about keeping all those out-of-state workers from coming into South Dakota. Wait, what with our impending skyrocketing unemployment, the Black Snakes could hire all South Dakotans and we could get the pipeline built faster than ever! Three problems solved at once.

  6. Scott 2020-03-29 11:30

    SD should also stop the Out of State Goose Hunters. Lots of hunters infiltrating the area.

    I normally and do not have issues with out of state hunters. The positives far outweigh the negatives for out of state hunters.

    But with Covid-19, the negatives far outweigh the positives of the out of state hunters.

  7. Donald Pay 2020-03-29 11:47

    Let’s get real. Nothing in South Dakota and the nation is more nonessential than an oil pipeline that is meant to provide a product to foreign entities in the midst of a world wide depression and oil glut. Any of the so-called “economic benefits” of the having those pipeline workers in the state are now suspect. They shouldn’t be able to go to restaurants and bars to spend their money in the state. They will have to socially distance, so “man camps” are not a very health-conscious solution to housing.

    Just to make a point, protestors also provide economic benefits. They eat food from local sources and go out to local restaurants and saloons. As Dr. McT would point out, if they aren’t biking in, they are buying gasoline and Ho-Hos at convenience stores, which bumps up the economy while creating a slight increase in greenhouse gases. In fact, I would suspect that the immediate impact to the economy of the protestors is more than the workers.

  8. grudznick 2020-03-29 12:10

    As usual, Mr. Pay makes a salient point. Those out-of-state protestors, their pockets bulging with their professional protestor pay and even the locals whose pockets are full of coin for each time they’ve gotten themselves thrown in the hoosegow, do drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of hohos. If we stop the protesting, we’re undercutting a possible surge in our economy.

  9. Donald Pay 2020-03-29 14:05

    Thanks, Grudz. I appreciate your sarcasm. I don’t know if the economic studies have been cranked out, but Governor Walker’s anti-union fit in 2011 hurt the economy long-term here badly, but the protests had a massive positive impact on local business. When people activate, they spend.

  10. Debbo 2020-03-29 15:40

    Building anything nonessential is anti-health madness. No governor who gives a damn about her citizens should be allowing something like this to go forward. Klueless Kristi is recklessly playing Russian roulette with the lives of South Dakotans.

  11. Richard Schriever 2020-03-29 16:14

    In the grudzian swamp only people who fit his imaginary mold of propriety are real enough to do real things – let alone things of legitimate value economically. People who do not fit the imaginary mold of propriety are not really people of value and therefore do not engage in real economic activities. Thus is the grudzian world. I feel it may lie adjacent to the borders of the great Trumpistan swamp – but it is hard to see clear lines of demarcation in such a mucky mess.

  12. grudznick 2020-03-29 16:20

    I have never thought that I, myself, may have a world. I like it. Good points, and while grudznick’s world might be adjacent to Mr. Trump’s swamp, let none of us forget that there is no free trade between the two and in fact I have a fence up to keep those who are insaner than most out of grudznick’s world. Which, by the way, unlike Disneyland, is still open and tickets are at bargain prices.

    My granddaughter said I should have this as a theme song at grudzworld:

    Ladies and gentlemen please
    Would you bring your attention to me?
    For a feast for your eyes to see
    An explosion of catastrophe
    Like nothing you’ve ever seen before
    Watch closely as I open this door
    Your jaws will be on the floor
    After this you’ll be begging for more
    Welcome to the show
    Please come inside
    Ladies and gentlemen

  13. Debbo 2020-03-29 16:33

    Richard, Grudz is an angry, impotent little man whose aim in life is to spew harm and degradation. He is never happier than when he creates unhappy feelings in others. Such is his dim and grim world.

    I find it entirely worthwhile never read his comments. They’re of little to no value other than exposing his inner ugliness. It makes me very happy to ignore him entirely. 😁😁😁 I urge others to do the same. By doing so you own all his past, present and future livestock of every kind. It’s really great fun. 🤣🤣🤣

  14. grudznick 2020-03-29 16:49

    Butch goat gotten.

  15. Caroline 2020-03-29 19:16

    What about out of state workers building wind towers and large hog barns??

  16. jerry 2020-03-29 19:44

    Do they stay in man camps?

  17. Richard Schriever 2020-03-30 09:45

    Caroline and jerry – being one of those solar and wind farm constructors – as well as a road and highway reconstructor – I can affirm – we do not stay in man-camps, of any sort. We stay in the best hotel we can find within 40 miles or so of a project. Company pays. In the contracts. Part of the bid. Union. Can’t speak for the CAFO builders. Thanks.

  18. Richard Schriever 2020-03-30 09:53

    PS – we practice social distancing all season long as we put in 12-14 hour days – separated from one another within our various pieces of equipment and pretty much only eat take out or box lunches made with groceries purchased on our ONE day off a week – Sunday, when we also do our laundry. Our on-the-job communications are almost entirely accomplished via cell phone or CB. I don’t know for sure, but suspect that this situation will change our practice of 2 to a room hotel dwelling to each crew member having their own room.

  19. Debbo 2020-03-30 20:20

    An energy stat for my sister and brother DFPers:

    Easy Breezy
    A new report from the Global Wind Energy Council noted that 2019 was the second-best year on record for the industry, with 60.4 gigawatts of generation installed in 2019, 19 percent higher than the 2018 information. The U.S. and China were the drivers: China installed 24 gigawatts last year, bringing its total to 230 gigawatts of generation, while the U.S. extended a tax credit and saw a further 9.1 gigawatts installed last year, for the first time ending with 100 gigawatts of wind generation capacity. Offshore wind is now 5 percent of the global capacity.

    John Timmer, Ars Technica
    (From Numlock News by Walt Hickey)

  20. Debbo 2020-03-31 02:10

    Will the SDGOP follow the direction of Rancid Racist?

    “The decision is the latest concerning sign that the Trump administration is willing to use its discretionary powers to attempt to take lands away from tribes, said Jean-Luc Pierite, of the North American Indian Center, a Boston-based advocacy group.”

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