The Public Service Commission listened to 15 hours of testimony and comments in Linton during a hearing on whether they should allow more oil to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline. We brought you the story on the testimony yesterday. There’s also the story of the people.
The length of the hearing didn't stop more than 30 people from testifying for or against the project. In the public comment section, there were more against expansion than for it, but overall, there was about a 50-50 split.
The wait was all day, but for people against the Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion, the chance to share their thoughts with the PSC on why there shouldn't be more oil going through the pipeline was too important to miss.
"This is our backyard where we live. It may not mean much to many but for us, this is home. Our home,” said John Pretty Bear, a Standing Rock Tribal Council Representative.
"If we do get a pipeline leak and it crosses near the Cannonball River on January 30 where we have 30 inches of pipe in maybe 30 below, how are you going to repair it?" said a Linton landowner who questioned how the company would respond to a cold-weather spill.
But this was anything but a one-sided affair. Supporters filled the auditorium in equal numbers.
"When the comments are made there hasn't been any answers from local officials on some of these issues, I felt that wasn't fair to the fact we did the diligence we felt we were capable of doing,” said Erin Magrum, Emmons County Commissioner.
"The DAPL Pipeline has had a significant positive impact to this region. Increasing the through-put will have greater positive impact for the region. I think that's a big benefit you all need to consider,” said Pete Siblernagel, a former ND lawmaker and landowner in Emmons County.
Comments didn't stop at possible spills or economics. Some focused on how past generations are trying to set up the future.
"This is what our ancestors fought for and I want you to know that. Because they died fighting for this. They wanted a better life for us and look at what we have now. We're fighting for clean water,” said a college student opposing the expansion.
"They approved a new wind farm earlier this year. They approved the optimization plan for DAPL and what that is going to do for Emmons County is going to include new infrastructure for a new substation,” said a Linton landowner supporting the expansion.
The PSC will take all the testimony under advisement as they continue work on the case. That work could take months before the PSC makes any ruling on whether to approve or deny the request.