North Dakota Seeks Funds from Trump Administration to Police the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline
The Trump Administration has received another request from the North Dakota congressional delegation to repay costs incurred by the state government when it policed the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline from protests in 2016 and 2017.
The delegation, including U.S. Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, is requesting $38 million after environmental groups and Native Americans staged a months-long protest that led to hundreds of arrests. They say state and local law enforcement was needed to police the protest despite the fact the pipeline was on federal land.
The delegation wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan looking to settle the claim. The paper notes the request was first made a year ago.
In the letter, the delegation said state and local resources were stretched thin because the Corps of Engineers wasn’t able to provide security during a 200-day stretch that begin in August 2016 that included up to 8,000 protesters. The letter states, “Due to the Corps’ failure to fulfill its mandatory legal duty to maintain law and order on federal land, the State of North Dakota had to stretch all law enforcement and emergency response agencies possible to protect public safety and maintain law and order at a cost of $38 million.”
The delegation is also seeking to change the process in which the federal government overseas its process to maintain order during protest. They write, “The administration has reset the precedent on permitting this type of project, but we urge you to also reset the federal government’s precedent in these matters to maintain law and order on federal land and recognize the overwhelming responsibility the state and local authorities in North Dakota employed to maintain public safety. That is why we again urge you to enter into constructive conversations with the State of North Dakota so that an equitable settlement can be reached in regards to North Dakota’s Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) claim for damages resulting from the DAPL protests.”
There were 761 arrests during the protests in during that time, according to a report from The Bismarck Tribune.
The paper also notes that the request from the congressional delegation comes on the same day a lawsuit filed to block construction of the Keystone XL pipeline was dismissed by a federal appeals court. Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have said they’ll use similar tactics that we’re employed against the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.
North Dakota’s state government may find encouragement in a recent proposal from the U.S. Transportation Department to increase the criminal penalties for those who damage or interfere with pipeline facilities. The Department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says the proposal “would strengthen the existing criminal penalty measures for damaging or destroying a pipeline facility. It would specify that vandalism, tampering with, or impeding, disrupting, or inhibiting the operation of a pipeline facility are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment.”