FAA

How a Company With Ties to a Dakota Access Pipeline Owner Flew Over Protests in the No Fly Zone

A helicopter over the Standing Rock encampment

One of the few helicopters authorized to fly within the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's (FAATemporary Flight Restriction (TFR) zone over Dakota Access pipeline protesters in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, has been identified as belonging to ABC Helicopters. According to its website, this company maintained as a customer the company Enbridge, a Dakota Access, LLC minority equity owner.

That portion of its website was removed after DeSmog contacted ABC Helicopters, which appears to fit under the umbrella of a Minnesota and Wisconsin-based company named Brainerd Helicopters. The TFR, initially set for October 26 through November 5, recently ended early after coming under public criticism.*

The temporary no-fly zone was put into place in response to the alleged use of drones around and arrows attempting to shoot down a law enforcement helicopter operating above the Standing Rock encampments, which are protesting the proposed Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. 

Dakota Access Pipeline Builder Ignored Obama Admin Request to Halt Construction

Dakota Access pipeline construction near Lake Oahe

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has confirmed to DeSmog that Energy Transfer Partners, the owner of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, has ignored the Obama administration's September 9 request to voluntarily halt construction in a disputed area, 20 miles east and west of Lake Oahe and the Missouri River. 

The confirmation came in the aftermath of a video published by drone pilot Shiyé Bidziil on the news website Indian Country Today titled, “Drone Footage of Dakota Access Pipeline Approaching Missouri River.” Published November 2, this video offers an airborne view of pipeline construction — coupled with heavily guarded concrete fortresses around key construction locales — in close proximity to the Missouri River. 

Stephen Colbert Highlights DeSmog's Exxon Arkansas Tar Sands Spill No Fly Zone Investigation

The Colbert Report last night featured DeSmogBlog's investigative findings on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) delegating authority over its “no-fly zone” above the Mayflower tar sands spill site to ExxonMobil “aviation advisor,” Tom Suhrhoff.

Stephen parodied Exxon's secrecy at the site of ExxonMobil's Pegasus tar sands pipeline spill, honing in on the fact that the “private empire” threatened a reporter at Inside Climate News with arrest when she sought to ask a spokesperson questions at the spill relief command center headed by Exxon.  

On March 29, Exxon's Pegasus pipeline spilled up to an estimated 7,000 barrels of tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) into Mayflower's neighborhoods and surrounding wetlands, causing the evacuation of 22 homesExxon's poor handling of the spill clean-up was also featured in the April 8 edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show.”

Check out “The Colbert Report” segment:

Exxon's Unfriendly Skies: Why Does Exxon Control the No-Fly Zone Over Arkansas Tar Sands Spill?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has had a “no fly zone” in place in Mayflower, Arkansas since April 1 at 2:12 PM and will be in place “until further notice,” according to the FAA website and it's being overseen by ExxonMobil itself. In other words, any media or independent observers who want to witness the tar sands spill disaster have to ask Exxon's permission.

Mayflower is the site of the recent major March 29 ExxonMobil Pegagus tar sands pipeline spill, which belched out an estimated 5,000 barrels of tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) into the small town's neighborhoods, causing the evacuation of 22 homes

The rules of engagement for the no fly zone dictate that no aircraft can fly within 1,000 feet of the ground in the five-mile radius surrounding the ExxonMobil Pegasus tar sands pipeline spillThe area located within this radius includes the nearby Pine Village Airport.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette revealed that the FAA site noted earlier today that “only relief aircraft operations under direction of Tom Suhrhoff” were allowed within the designated no fly zone. 

Suhrhoff is not an FAA employee: he works for ExxonMobil as an “Aviation Advisor and formerly worked as a U.S. Army pilot for 24 years, according to his LinkedIn page. 

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