North Dakota Taxpayers On The Hook For $40 Million Because Of Pipeline Protests

REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Protests at the Dakota Access Pipeline earlier this year cost North Dakota taxpayers nearly $40 million, and resulted in more than 700 arrests.

Taxpayers must pony up $38 million to repair damage anti-DAPL activists caused during nearly a year of protesting the multi-billion dollar oil project, according to reports conducted by state officials. Many of the hundreds of arrests came from out of state protesters.

Morton County officials believe 94 percent of the 709 arrests at the Oceti and Sacred Campsites were of people from outside of North Dakota. Officials also said 221 of those apprehended had prior criminal records.

The protests also created significant property damage. More than 544 households reported losses ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 each from crop losses. The total equates to over $8 million in total losses.

Demonstrations have slowly petered out near the DAPL, a nearly 1,200-mile-long pipeline transporting 500,000 barrels of Bakken oil from the Dakotas to Illinois. The contentious project was completed last month and is now online, according to some reports.

American Indian tribes and environmentalists believe the pipeline’s construction would trample on tribal lands and potentially poison waterways, including rivers such as the Missouri River and Lake Oahe.

The Army Corps of Engineers rejected the previously approved pipeline in December during former President Barack Obama’s final month in office. The Corps argued the route needed further environmental reviews and assessments before construction could proceed.

President Donald Trump eventually issued orders approving the DAPL in January, resulting in a cascade of lawsuits by tribes suggesting the president violated federal law by denying proper review of environmental and religious rights issues surrounding the $3.8 billion pipeline.

The Army Corps completed its $1.1 million cleanup at the Sacred Stone campsite in February. Sanitation crews hauled away 845 dumpsters of trash remaining at four sites devoted to housing opponents of the multi-billion oil project. Local officials worried the trash left at the makeshift site would cause an ecological disaster if not cleaned up.

A total of 8,170 cubic yards of debris was removed from Sacred Stone, Oceti Sakowin and Rosebud, according to Army Corps Capt. Ryan Hignight.

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