North Dakota of­fi­cials bor­row $4M, crit­i­cize protest cost

Malta Independent - - BUSINESS -

North Dakota lead­ers have agreed to bor­row an ad­di­tional $4 mil­lion to cover the es­ca­lat­ing costs of polic­ing protests at the Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line and slammed the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for not chip­ping in part of the fund­ing.

The state has now run up a $10 mil­lion line of credit for law en­force­ment costs af­ter an emer­gency spend­ing panel headed by Gov. Jack Dal­rym­ple voted Tues­day to bor­row the ad­di­tional funds from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.

Dal­rym­ple said of­fi­cials have asked for con­tri­bu­tions from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, the pipe­line com­pany, an Amer­i­can In­dian tribe, "and any en­tity we can think of." So far, North Dakota and the local gov­ern­ments it backs have shoul­dered most of the law en­force­ment ex­penses — even pay­ing for of­fi­cers from other states that have as­sisted North Dakota dur­ing the protests.

More than 400 peo­ple have been ar­rested since Au­gust at the North Dakota por­tion of the pipe­line, which also crosses through South Dakota, Iowa and Illi­nois.

Amer­i­can In­di­ans and others who op­pose the con­struc­tion of Dal­las-based En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners' $3.8 bil­lion pipe­line have set up an en­camp­ment on U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers land with­out a per­mit; fed­eral of­fi­cials have said they won't evict them due to free speech rea­sons.

Op­po­nents of the pipe­line worry about po­ten­tial ef­fects on drink­ing wa­ter on the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe's reser­va­tion and far­ther down­stream on the Mis­souri River, as well as de­struc­tion of cul­tural ar­ti­facts, in­clud­ing burial sites.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Al Carl­son called the lack of fed­eral sup­port "very dis­turb­ing" but said the state "will al­ways step up for safety."

"I can't tell you how dis­ap­pointed I am at the lack of sup­port from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion on an is­sue that's clearly a fed­eral is­sue," Carl­son said.

The U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment and the pipe­line com­pany did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to email ques­tions from The As­so­ci­ated Press about the state's re­quest for ad­di­tional money. A call to the Stand­ing Rock Sioux tribe was not im­me­di­ately re­turned. En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners has not given the state any money for the protest re­sponse. How­ever, Emer­gency Ser­vices spokes­woman Ce­cily Fong said the pipe­line de­vel­oper has pro­vided a se­cu­rity he­li­copter that has aided law en­force­ment and has agreed to use it for medi­vac ser­vices if any of­fi­cers or pro­test­ers sus­tain se­ri­ous in­juries.

Dal­rym­ple is­sued an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion in Au­gust to cover law en­force­ment ex­penses re­lated to protests. The state's Emer­gency Com­mis­sion bor­rowed $6 mil­lion from the Bank of North Dakota in Septem­ber.

Maj. Gen. Alan Dohrmann, the leader of the state's Na­tional Guard, said about $8 mil­lion has been spent to date on law en­force­ment and other costs re­lated to the protests, cen­tered in south­cen­tral North Dakota.

Mor­ton County said it has spent an ad­di­tional $3 mil­lion to cover ex­tra costs. The county may ap­ply for re­im­burse­ment from the state.

The state of North Dakota also is using the emer­gency ap­pro­pri­a­tions to pay the costs of law of­fi­cers from other states that have helped with the protest re­sponse through the Emer­gency Man­age­ment As­sis­tance Com­pact, a na­tional sys­tem for shar­ing per­son­nel dur­ing a state of emer­gency. The re­quest­ing state is ob­li­gated to re­im­burse re­spond­ing agen­cies for rea­son­able ex­penses ex­cept work­ers com­pen­sa­tion claims, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion.

State and local of­fi­cers from South Dakota, Min­nesota, Wis­con­sin, In­di­ana, Ne­braska, Wy­oming and Ohio have come to the aid of North Dakota. North Dakota's Depart­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices isn't re­leas­ing the num­ber of of­fi­cers, cit­ing "op­er­a­tional se­cu­rity."

Mor­ton County Sher­iff Kyle Kirch­meier said re­cently that the out-of-state of­fi­cers as well as those brought in from around North Dakota are needed so of­fi­cers get needed breaks "so we can main­tain a pres­ence in that area." The shar­ing of of­fi­cers hasn't been well-re­ceived in some states, in­clud­ing Min­nesota, how­ever. Hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered in the Twin Cities last week to call for the with­drawal of Hennepin County sher­iff's deputies.

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