“In all, the state has accumulated about $1.8 million in costs, including overtime for Department of Emergency Services personnel and payments to reimburse costs incurred by partnering law enforcement agencies,” a press release from Governor Jack Dalrymple’s office yesterday stated (see below). “Morton County officials have reported incurring costs of about $100,000 a week for a total of approximately $400,000.”
That’s a huge amount of money, and with often unlawful and sometimes violent #NoDAPL protesters vowing to stay the course at their camps, a let up in these costs doesn’t seem to be on the horizon.
Which puts a fine point on Governor Jack Dalrymple’s call for the federal government to engage:
“The federal government’s announcement on Friday regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline has extended indefinitely the period of time necessary to bring the issue to a resolution,” Gov. Dalrymple said. “With a decision on the pipeline delayed indefinitely, the federal government shares in the responsibility of ensuring that peace and order are maintained.”
Dalrymple spoke today with White House officials and has also been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Interior and the Department of Justice to press for federal assistance, both personnel and financial support. Dalrymple called for federal officials to provide assistance for as long as resources are needed to maintain public safety.
“I’m going to hold the federal government to its word, when the Corps and the departments of Interior and Justice delayed a decision on the pipeline’s construction, and offered to deploy resources to North Dakota to help “defuse tensions, support peaceful protest, and maintain public safety,”’ Dalrymple said.
It’s worth remembering that a large faction of the protesters are camping on Corps property without a permit, something the Corps has done nothing to address one way or another. That puts state officials in the awkward position of dealing with protesters who are often breaking laws – from trespassing to blocking highways to acts of violence and vandalism – from a base of operations on federal land.
Whatever you make think of the pipeline and the protesters trying to block it, federal authorities need to engage to help the state maintain law and order.
I also hope Governor Dalrymple follows up on his comments about recouping some of the state’s costs from those factions within the protests who have committed unlawful acts. The state deploying law enforcement to keep the peace at lawful protests is one thing. That’s just part of the job.
But protesters who are purposefully obstructing lawful industry, among other criminal acts? The taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the cost of that.
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