In a letter to the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer and Governor Jack Dalrymple called for the allocation of law enforcement resources to ensure public safety during ongoing demonstrations against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
The letter cites the costs to North Dakota of the indefinite delay of final authorization to cross Lake Oahe which includes a strain on state law enforcement resources. Additionally, the delegation and Governor have requested “a meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Interior, U.S.Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps), North Dakota’s governor, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and the company to discuss this matter and work toward a solution, as the Administration’s unprecedented announcement warrants further clarification.”
It also outlines the following questions for detailed response by the Administration:
- How will the Army Corps “move expeditiously” to make a”clear and timely resolution” on the proposed project, as stated in the joint press release on September 9,2016?
- How long will the Army Corps require to “determine whether [the Army Corps] will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws”?
- Please detail the exact timeline and evaluation criteria the Army Corps will use to make this new determination.
- When will the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Interior, and the Army Corps convene atribal consultation on the overall permitting process as stated in the letter? Where will this consultation take place? Who will be invited? How will this effect, if at all, any decision on the authorization for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross Lake Oahe?
Despite the fact the pipeline was lawfully reviewed and approved by 4 states and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under a Nationwide 12 Permit, and those permitting decisions were upheld by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Obama Administration released a statement calling for the voluntary cessation of construction activities near Lake Oahe, and for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to “determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions.”
Following a conference call with the DOJ, DOI, and USACE, the delegation and governor specifically requested the following:
- Immediate additional federal law enforcement officers to assist local law enforcement in their efforts to keep the peace.
- Federal funding to cover the cost of additional policing. The state has already spent $1.8 million to date, and estimates it will spend approximately $125,000 a week based on current circumstances.
- A clear and timely resolution on the Dakota Access Pipeline project, apart from any review of the current process for consulting with tribes in the future.
Congressman Cramer said, “since the Administration created this problem, it has the obligation to fix it,” said Cramer. “It’s long past time to restore order.”
“With its decision on Friday to delay the pipeline project, the federal government shares in the responsibility of making sure that peace and order are maintained,” Gov. Dalrymple said.
Assistant Attorney General William Baer committed to responding to the delegation and governor on Friday.