UPDATE: Originally this post linked to the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 as the one #NoDAPL protesters were citing as justification for trespassing. It was actually the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty. I’ve corrected the post to reflect that.
Back in September the rancher who owns the historic Cannonball Ranch sold it to the company trying to build the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The company had an easement to build the pipeline across the property, but protesters have taken to trespassing on the land in their efforts to block the pipeline. In fact, over the weekend protesters established a permanent camp on the land right in the path of the pipeline claiming it’s theirs by dint of a 165 year old treaty.
“It’s a beautiful ranch, but I just wanted out,” ranch owner David Meyer told the folks at KXNews of the sale.
Who can blame him?
Anyway, because North Dakota has an anachronistic ban on corporate farming which is an insult to the concept of property rights, some questioned the legality of the transfer. It was “sketchy” said former Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Sarah Vogel.
Under the law land cannot be owned by corporations for the purposes of farming or ranching. The pipeline company had 30 days to explain how they will use the land to the Attorney General’s Office.
This morning the company delivered a letter (by hand, AG’s office spokeswoman Liz Brocker tells me) explaining that they bought the land to better protect their workers and their pipeline while construction is on-going, and that the plan is to transfer the property back to someone else for use as a ranch once construction is completed.
You can read the full letter below. An excerpt:
The letter argues that North Dakota’s laws aim to prevent corporations from engaging in farming or ranching operations.
Since even the most blinkered of #NoDAPL activists is unlikely to say, with a straight face, that the pipeline company is going to start a cattle operation in south central North Dakota, I think we can agree that this land transfer is legal.
Or should be, anyway, but who knows.
This area of North Dakota law is very, very stupid.
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