The Dakota Access Pipeline Company Shouldn’t Have Given the State of North Dakota a Dime

“Dakota Access Pipeline LLC has donated $15 million to the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES) to help retire debt incurred by the state as a result of its response to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests,” Governor Doug Burgum announced in a press release which just dropped in my inbox.

“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 is quoted as saying in the 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.”

North Dakota has borrowed $43 million from our state bank to cover the cost of the law enforcement response to the often violent and unlawful protests. Earlier this summer the state was awarded a $10 million grant from the Department of Justice, and now with $15 million from the pipeline company there’s still about $18 million in debt left.

“We are appreciative of Dakota Access, and this donation and the fact that oil is flowing through the pipeline are a testament to their commitment to our state. We are still hopeful the federal government will pick up the remaining $18 million,” House Majority Leader Al Carlson is quoted as saying in Burgum’s release.

You can read the full release below.

It’s nice that the company did this, but I don’t think they should have (as I’ve argued before). The last thing we need is for the oil and gas industry to set a precedent whereby they’re expected to pony up for the law enforcement response to the destructive and illegal antics of the environmental zealots who show up to try and stop their projects.

As much as I hate the idea of the taxpayers – through the state or the federal government – paying for these costs, we shouldn’t expect the victims of crimes to pay for the costs incurred by the criminals.

The people who should be paying for this are the protesters and the groups who organized them.

Already activists in other parts of the country, protesting other projects, are calling the #NoDAPL protests a “dress rehearsal.”

The precedents set in North Dakota matter.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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