ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Our View: Feds should pay for Dakota Access protest costs

The fight for and against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a lengthy, controversial and complicated issue, as you can read in today's front-page story and corresponding timeline by Forum News Service reporter Amy Dalrymple.

2816539+091416.N.FNS_.DakotaAccess2.JPG
Officers arrest one of the 22 protesters at a Dakota Access pipeline construction site near Glen Ullin, N.D., about 80 miles away from the original protest site. Twenty protesters were arrested for criminal trespassing while two bound to equipment were charged with disorderly conduct and hindering law enforcement. (Photo courtesy of Morton County Sheriff's Department)

The fight for and against the Dakota Access Pipeline is a lengthy, controversial and complicated issue, as you can read in today's front-page story and corresponding timeline by Forum News Service reporter Amy Dalrymple.

The protest at the Sacred Stone Camp near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers in Morton County has been ongoing since April, but only gained notoriety in mid-August when environmental activists and celebrities from around the country joined Native Americans from North Dakota in an attempt to block the pipeline's construction beneath the Missouri River.

So far, they've succeeded. But the cost has been great, and now the state of North Dakota is being left with a hefty bill.

Earlier this week, the state decided to borrow $6 million from the Bank of North Dakota to pay for costs associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. Much of that will go toward paying for extra law enforcement and National Guard near the camp along state Highway 1806 and other areas along the pipeline's route, as well as for protests in Bismarck and Mandan.

While many of the protesters have been peaceful, there's no denying that others have trespassed, vandalized, and have committed felony reckless endangerment and other unlawful activities.

ADVERTISEMENT

We're well past the point where some protesters have become lawbreakers and are leaving the citizens of North Dakota with the bill.

That said, many on the Standing Rock Reservation have legitimate arguments and have been peacefully expressing them. The tribe is worried about their water and sacred sites, and rightfully so. Many of their brethren from around the nation share that opinion and are standing by their side peacefully.

The protesters who have been peaceful should be commended for being civil and expressing their freedoms justly. But it's time we start asking them to rein their peers who aren't and are costing North Dakota taxpayers millions of dollars in the process.

Remember, the protesters don't have to pay for what they're doing. But our state's citizens do.

Yes, mistakes have been made along the way. But now that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has unauthorized construction of the pipeline beneath the Missouri River as it "reconsiders" its decision to allow it in the first place, it's time to reach some common-sense solutions.

With the federal government clearly taking the side of the protesters rather than Dakota Access and the state, it's time for North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and our Congressional delegation to stand up and demand federal assistance through the entirety the Obama administration's decision process, which history has shown will undoubtedly be lengthy. This process will likely last up until or through the November election.

Looking forward, the $6 million bill is only a start. The longer the protest goes, and the more unlawful and non-peaceful activity there is, the costs will keep adding up.

If the federal government wants to keep the Dakota Access Pipeline out of the ground and allow the protests to keep going-on federal land, mind you-then it's time they start paying for it.

What To Read Next
The Dickinson Press Editorial Board stands with the wild horses and calls on the National Park Service to extend public commentary period
“From the Hawks’ Nest” is a monthly column by Dickinson State University President Steve Easton
"Life is a team effort no matter what, and greed puts you out on a lonely limb," writes Kevin Holten.
"Our life of faith is a life with God. And that makes all the difference," writes Boniface Muggli