When violent mobs of political extremists descended on south central North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline the Obama administration abdicated the responsibility to law and order. Protesters were allowed to build elaborate camps on federal land and from there launch waves of attacks on the pipeline construction and local law enforcement.
The cost of providing a law enforcement response, one curtailed by an inability to do anything on federal land, was in the tens of millions for North Dakota taxpayers.
Now Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is going after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a $38 million reimbursement, arguing that the “protests were aggravated by the negligent and unlawful conduct by the Corps, including the Corps’ complete failure to enforce mandatory legal requirement governing private conduct on federal lands under its jurisdiction, which, if enforced, would have prevented or minimized the civil unrest and resulting damages to North Dakota.”
You can read the full statement from the AG’s office here, and the claim that was filed below.
It’s a long document, but this excerpt speaks to the crux of the state’s arguments against the federal government’s actions (or, more accurately, lack thereof) under the Obama administration:
The claim was “filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which makes the federal government liable for negligent and other wrongful conduct to the same extent a private person would be liable under state law,” Stenehjem’s statement says.
“[U]nder North Dakota law, a private person or company that engaged in the same conduct would be liable for all damages caused by the trespass, gross negligence, and nuisance resulting from the conduct,” Stenehjem is quoted as saying, adding “the whole purpose of the federal Tort Claims Act is to make the federal government liable just like any private person would be.”
Congressman Kevin Cramer also released a statement supporting Stenehjem in filing the claim. “Rather than provide security and safety for our citizens, the Obama Administration’s refusal to execute their legal obligations during the entirety of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests helped introduce and proliferate environmental terrorism throughout North Dakota,” he said.
Here’s the claim: