Delegation seeks settlement of Dakota Access protest costs
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s congressional delegation is calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to address the state’s year-old request for $38 million to cover the cost of policing protests against the Dakota Access oil pipeline.
U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong sent a letter Thursday urging Attorney General William Barr and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to settle the state’s claim, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
North Dakota’s attorney general filed an administrative claim against the Army Corps of Engineers last year, accusing the agency of letting protesters illegally camp on federal land in North Dakota in 2016 and 2017. It also argued the Corps didn’t maintain law and order when thousands gathered to protest the $3.8 billion pipeline built by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners.
The pipeline was designed to move North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois.
The Corps inaction “required North Dakota to provide a sustained, large-scale public safety response to prevent deaths, and protect property and public safety, including that of the protesters,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem wrote in the funding request at the time.
The state delegation is now asking Barr and Shanahan to recognize the state’s public safety response during the prolonged and sometimes violent protests.
Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle declined to comment on the delegation’s letter. The Defense Department also didn’t immediately provide comment.
The delegates’ request came on the same day that a federal appeals court ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by environmental and Native American groups who sought to block construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Opponents of the $8 billion pipeline from Canada to the U.S. have threatened similar protests to those against the Dakota Access pipeline.