North Dakota Demands Feds Repay Them $38 Million Over Dakota Pipeline Protests

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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North Dakota has filed a claim against the federal government for $38 million the state spent dealing with the months-long Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests.

The state claims the often violent protests were the result of negligence by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps failed to enforce the law and keep protesters from setting up illegal campsites on federal land, the state argues.

“Those organized protests, launched from large makeshift encampments illegally located on federal lands, involved frequent outbreaks of dangerous, unsanitary, and sometimes life-threatening activity,” North Dakota Attorney General Stenehjem said in a statement.

Stenehjem filed the claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which allows states to hold the federal government liable for damages similar to that of a private party. Stenehjem said it took the state months to tabulate all the costs associated with the DAPL protest necessary to file a claim.

Environmentalists and Native American activists flocked to camps set up along the planned DAPL route in 2016, trying to keep the pipeline from being completed. (RELATED: What Do These Climate Change Lawsuits Have In Common? Trial Lawyers)

Activists not only argued the pipeline would harm the environment, but also said it would run through land sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

For eight months, protesters clashed with law enforcement, resulting in hundreds of arrests. Dakota pipeline equipment were also sabotaged by activists and local landowners complained of widespread property damage.

Liberal groups focused a large amount of tension, framing the issue as the federal government trampling over tribal history. Even Russian internet trolls got involved and pushed anti-DAPL propaganda.

The Obama administration rejected the pipeline in late 2016 after initially approving it. Protesters cheered the move, but the decision was soon overturned by the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order approving DAPL and the Keystone XL pipeline. Activists launched a legal battle against the pipeline, but the pipeline started moving oil from the Bakken in 2017.

Protests ended in early 2017 after North Dakota issued an emergency evacuation order for protesters to leave their camps on the flood plain. Government officials came in and removed 4.5 million pounds of garbage and waste left behind by environmental protesters.

Workers hauled away more than 800 dumpsters worth of garbage from the activist camps, costing the Corps about $1.1 million. About one dozen abandoned dogs and puppies were also found at the site and taken in by a local animal shelter.

Most disturbing, however, was the discovery of a dead body near one of the protest campsites.

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