Jan 3 North Dakota's new governor warned on
Tuesday that protesters remaining at the construction site of
the Dakota Access Pipeline should vacate their main camp before
spring because of the risk of flooding.
The site of the $3.8 billion project, which crosses four
states, was the scene of demonstrations by Native Americans,
environmentalists, military veterans and celebrities who said
the North Dakota portion would harm water resources and sacred
In early December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied
an easement needed to allow the pipeline to run under Lake Oahe,
a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose land is adjacent to the
pipeline, asked the thousands of protesters to disperse after
the decision. Most did so, but some have remained despite the
harsh winter conditions.
"The main protest camp is located directly in the floodplain
of the Cannonball-Missouri River confluence. Given the snowfall
we're having this winter and historic data on the Cannonball
River, that camp will likely flood in early March," Governor
Doug Burgum said in his State of the State address in Bismarck.
"Anything less than a complete restoration of the area prior
to the early March flood will endanger the lives of the
protesters and of our first responders," added Burgum, a
Republican who took office last month.
Burgum, who supports completion of the pipeline, reiterated
the position of law enforcement officials who have said many of
the demonstrators were from outside North Dakota and had
undercut genuine concerns over water rights.
"Those original concerns have been hijacked by those with
alternative agendas," he said.
Burgum, a tech industry veteran who was elected in November,
pledged to begin meeting with tribal leaders this week. The
pipeline, he said, had highlighted the need to address historic
injustices against Native Americans.
"The history of American settlement and westward expansion
contains many tragic episodes of broken promises, displaced
native peoples, and forced assimilation. It is in this context
that the Standing Rock situation must be understood."
Energy Transfer Partners LP, which is building the
pipeline, has gone to federal court for a permit to complete the
job. It has said the 1,172-mile (1,885-km) pipeline, which is
nearly finished, would be a more efficient and safer means to
transport oil from the Bakken shale of North Dakota.
(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Peter