(Adds statement from Stein)
WASHINGTON, Sept 7 A sheriff's department in
North Dakota is investigating possible charges against the U.S.
Green Party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, for damaging
equipment during protests on Tuesday over construction of an oil
Stein was part of a group protesting the Dakota Access
pipeline and spray-painted construction equipment, the Morton
County Sheriff's Department said. Stein does not dispute the
Protesters, who say the project will damage burial sites
considered sacred to a nearby Native American tribe and pollute
the area's drinking water, also attached themselves to
bulldozers and broke a fence, the department said.
Stein, a 66-year-old doctor and environmental activist from
Massachusetts, said in a statement that she had spray-painted
the words "I approve this message" onto a bulldozer, a nod to
the phrase American politicians append to their advertisements
to comply with transparency laws.
No arrests were made, the department said, and the
investigation was continuing. The department also posted a
picture on its Facebook page that showed Stein spraying the
bulldozer, calling it a "criminal act."
The $3.7 billion, 1,100-mile (1,800-km) pipeline project
would be the first to move crude oil from the Bakken shale, a
vast oil formation in North Dakota, to refineries on the U.S.
Gulf Coast. Energy Transfer Partners is leading a group
of firms to build it.
The project sparked violent clashes during the weekend
between tribe members and other protesters and security officers
near the construction site, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is
seeking a court order to block construction.
The Green Party opposes continued investment in oil
extraction because of its link to climate change.
"I hope the North Dakota authorities press charges against
the real vandalism taking place at the Standing Rock Sioux
reservation: the bulldozing of sacred burial sites and the
unleashing of vicious attack dogs," Stein said in her statement.
She said that pipeline security officials had used dogs and
pepper spray on protesters over the weekend.
A spokeswoman for Energy Transfer Partners did not respond
to a request for comment.
A Reuters-Ipsos poll in late August showed Stein the first
choice of 2 percent of voters, trailing Democrat Hillary
Clinton, Republican Donald Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson.
The U.S. presidential election will be held on Nov. 8.
Stein was arrested for trespassing in Texas during her 2012
presidential campaign when she tried to take supplies to
protesters opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline.
(Reporting by Julia Harte and Jonathan Allen; Writing by Susan
Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott and Matthew Lewis)