North Dakota approved to claim damages for DAPL protests

K. William Boyer
Devils Lake Journal

Judge Rejects Federal Government Efforts to Dismiss DAPL Protests Recovery Costs

STATEWIDE - U.S. District Judge Daniel Traynor rejected a motion from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that sought to prevent North Dakota from claiming damages against the federal government to cover its emergency response expenses from the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protests. 

Protesters in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said the state faced tremendous costs to support both law enforcement and cleanup due to what he said was the the federal government’s negligence during the DAPL protests. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven secured $10 million in Fiscal Year 2017 through the DOJ Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance program to help reimburse the state.

Protesters in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“It is the negligence of the Obama White House and the Corps of Engineers and the Interior Department at the time that led to these riots and this upheaval that had to be policed,"  Hoeven said.

Hoeven said the state had to bear the cost, resulting in millions of dollars according to reports, to bring in outside police forces and police officers to keep the people safe. 

Protesters in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"For whatever reason, the Obama White House wouldn’t feel the obligation, the Trump White House didn’t feel the obligation, nor has the Biden White House," Hoeven said. "Now, the obligation is clear and the course is set for trial. Let’s spare the people, the public, and the taxpayers of this country a long, drawn-out trial and just do the right thing."

Senator Kevin Cramer said that if the state was ready to go to trial to get the assistance they need. 

"Bring it on," Cramer said. "Let’s have a trial. Let’s get to discovery. Let’s subpoena the statements and the memos and the correspondence from the Obama White House, the Department of the Interior, United States Army, and the Department of Justice throughout these years. We are glad to go on that expedition to prove our case and make sure the people of North Dakota are reimbursed fully because of the negligence of the federal government.” 

If no settlement can be reached, a trial is set for May 1, 2023. Senator Cramer has said he is urging the Department of Justice and Army Corps to settle following Judge Traynor’s last ruling on this case matter.