BISMARCK, N.D. – On August 19th, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple authorized a restricted emergency declaration. The declaration is in response to an ongoing protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Protesters, starting with people from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, who live on an Indian Reservation located just south of the pipeline’s charted path have sought an injunction from the courts to stop construction on the pipeline. The impact of any pipeline leaks would have a terrible and irreversible impact on their community according to the Standing Rock Sioux. The Standing Rock Sioux also state that the pipeline will cross traditional lands where their people hunted, and where there are ancestral burial grounds. The group which started the protest last April has been joined by supporters from across the United States and Canada.
The issue is starting to gain some international media coverage as well. However to date neither Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump appear to have taken a stand.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple states, “Public safety is paramount as we continue to closely monitor protest activities and coordinate our public safety efforts with law enforcement leaders and state agency directors.
“Following reports of heavy pedestrian traffic and numerous vehicles parked along ND Highway 1806, we restricted travel six miles south of Mandan to local traffic and emergency response vehicles only. Alternate routes are available for through traffic. Additionally, we established a traffic control point at the intersection of ND Highway 6 and Morton County Road 138A to provide information regarding protest activities along the highway.
“While we are concerned about some cases of unlawful activity, we are pleased that no one has been injured and it is our top priority to keep it that way.”
The Governor’s executive order does not include activation of the North Dakota National Guard, but makes available other state resources for the purpose of protecting the health, safety and well-being of the general public and those involved in the protest. The executive order can help the state and local agencies manage costs associated with providing a heightened law enforcement presence and activates the State Emergency Operations Plan to coordinate the efficient flow of resources.
“The State of North Dakota remains committed to protecting citizens’ rights to lawfully assemble and protest, but the unfortunate fact remains that unlawful acts associated with the protest near Cannon Ball have led to serious public safety concerns and property damage,” Gov. Dalrymple said. “This emergency declaration simply allows us to bring greater resources to bear if needed to help local officials address any further public safety concerns.”
Following is a link to the Governor’s executive order: 081916 Executive Order
On Wednesday, the North Dakota Department of Transportation restricted southbound travel on ND Highway 1806, about six miles south of Mandan, to local traffic and emergency response vehicles only. The highway’s traffic was restricted following growing concerns about heavy pedestrian traffic and numerous vehicles parked along the highway. Alternative routes are available for through traffic. Additionally, the Transportation Department established a traffic control point at the intersection of ND Highway 6 and Morton County Road 138A to provide motorists with information regarding protest activities near Cannon Ball. The travel restrictions on ND Hwy 1806 and the traffic control point on Highway 6 remain in effect.
The North Dakota Human Rights Coalition in a statement say that “NDHRC stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and all persons exercising their constitutionally protected right to peacefully assemble and protest construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“Thousands of individuals, ranging in age from infants to the elderly, Native and non-Native, are camped near this protest. The deprivation of water is inhumane and certainly not something the NDHRC condones. The singling out of Native persons and preventing their free movement on and off the reservation on public roads harkens back to this nation’s dark history.
“The DA pipeline’s path poses a threat of irreparable harm to (1) the tribe’s primary source of clean water and (2) sacred sites, which fall under the protection of the treaty between the federal government and the tribe.
“NDHRC calls on authorities, elected leaders, lawmakers and governmental officials, especially those who have been imposing sanctions on our fellow citizens, to acknowledge and honor the tribe’s treaty rights, as well as their right to be heard on an issue that affects their daily lives and future generations. Authorities should make every effort to defend the right to peaceful assembly rather than escalate this situation or react with fear and intimidation”.
The Dakota Access pipeline is a $3.7 billion project that should it be completed carry 470,000 barrels of oil daily from oil drilling platforms in Western North Dakota to Illinois. From Illinois the Dakota Access pipeline could than connect to other pipelines in the American network.