N.D. officials borrow $4M, criticize protest cost

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, November 2, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota leaders have agreed to borrow an additional $4 million to cover the escalating costs of policing protests at the Dakota Access pipeline and slammed the federal government for not chipping in part of the funding.

The state has now run up a $10 million line of credit for law enforcement costs after an emergency spending panel headed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple voted Tuesday to borrow the additional funds from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota.

Dalrymple said officials have asked for contributions from the federal government, the pipeline company, an American Indian tribe, “and any entity we can think of.” So far, North Dakota and the local governments it backs have shouldered most of the law enforcement expenses — even paying for officers from other states that have assisted North Dakota during the protests.

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More than 400 people have been arrested since August at the North Dakota portion of the pipeline, which also crosses through South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

American Indians and others who oppose the construction of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8 billion pipeline have set up an encampment on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land without a permit; federal officials have said they won’t evict them due to free speech reasons.

Opponents of the pipeline worry about potential effects on drinking water on the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s reservation and farther downstream on the Missouri River, as well as destruction of cultural artifacts, including burial sites.

House Majority Leader Al Carlson called the lack of federal support “very disturbing” but said the state “will always step up for safety.”