Thousands of tribal citizens and their allies marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., for Native Nations Rise on March 10, 2017. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

North Dakota accepts $15M from wealthy backers of Dakota Access Pipeline

The state of North Dakota has accepted a $15 million "donation" from the wealthy backers of the Dakota Access Pipeline while politicians beg the federal government for even more money.

The money will help the state cover the costs of its often brutal response to the #NoDAPL movement. According to Gov. Doug Burgum (R), the Department of Emergency Services incurred $40 million while the Morton County Sheriff's Department incurred $3 million between August 2016 and February 2017.

“We are grateful for Dakota Access Pipeline’s recognition of the significant impacts this project had on our state, our citizens and the law enforcement officers and emergency services personnel who worked tirelessly to protect the life, health and safety of everyone involved,” Burgum said in a press release. “We remain committed to pursuing all available avenues to ensure that North Dakota taxpayers alone don’t bear the enormous costs of law enforcement, life safety and other resources expended on the protests.”

The state previously secured $10 million in taxpayer funds to cover its law enforcement costs. The money came from a Department of Justice program that is not open to tribal governments.

That leaves an estimated $18 million on the table. The state is flush with billions of dollars in energy tax revenues but has said the federal government bears responsibility for the #NoDAPL efforts because the encampment took place on federally-managed land near the home of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

"We are still hopeful the federal government will pick up the remaining $18 million," House Majority Leader Al Carlson, a Republican, said in the governor's press release.

The pipeline became operational on June 1 after the Trump administration approved the final portion near Standing Rock. Two weeks later, a federal judge said the decision failed to take into account the tribe's concerns about treaties, water rights and oil spills.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been ordered to address the concerns. But attorneys from the Department of Justice are already suggesting a new analysis won't make a difference.

"There is a serious possibility that the Corps will substantiate its prior decisions, in part because the risk that any oil will spill into Lake Oahe is low," an August 17 brief stated. The final portion of the pipeline crosses federally-managed land at Lake Oahe.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe have called for a halt in operations while the new review occurs. The Trump administration, Dakota Access and industry groups are opposing the request. It's not clear when a decision will come from the court.

Read More on the Story:
Dakota Access developer gives $15M toward security costs (The Associated Press September 28, 2017)

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