(Adds charges against journalist being dropped)
By Devika Krishna Kumar
NEW YORK Oct 17 Construction equipment for
Dakota Access LLC's controversial $3.7 billion oil pipeline
suffered about $2 million in damage in an intentionally set fire
over the weekend in Iowa, authorities said on Monday.
The Jasper County Sheriff's office said the fire occurred
late Saturday near the town of Reasnor, Iowa, near where other
equipment was set ablaze in August along the pipeline route,
which is planned to carry oil from North Dakota to the U.S. Gulf
Coast. State and federal authorities are investigating.
Dakota Access said in an emailed statement it "experienced
the intentional burning of construction equipment by unknown
individuals. These illegal actions have resulted in millions of
dollars in damage."
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe and environmental activists
have been protesting construction of the 1,100-mile (1,886-km)
pipeline in North Dakota for several months because they say it
threatens water supply and sacred sites.
On Monday, dozens of demonstrators gathered outside the
Morton County Courthouse in North Dakota to protest the pipeline
and support for a journalist charged with rioting.
Construction of one section in North Dakota has been halted
in response to the tribe's concerns and is under federal review.
The company, a unit of Energy Transfer Partners LP,
on Monday offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to
an arrest and conviction in the case, but it did not immediately
respond to a request for details on the incident.
Opposition to pipeline construction has increased in recent
years, with activists protesting against the Keystone XL line
that was rejected by the Obama administration.
Last week, climate-change activists disrupted the flow of
millions of barrels of crude from Canada to the United States in
coordinated efforts that targeted several key pipelines
Protest group Climate Direct Action said the move was in
support of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
A North Dakota judge on Monday dropped misdemeanor rioting
charges against Amy Goodman, a journalist from the TV and radio
program "Democracy Now!," said Goodman and her attorney, Tom
McLean County State's Attorney Ladd Erickson, who filed the
complaint against Goodman, did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.
Separate trespassing charges against Goodman were dropped on
Friday, Dickson said.
Goodman said that the dismissal of charges was "a great
vindication of the First Amendment."
The charges stemmed from Goodman's Sept. 3 report that
showed security guards at the pipeline using dogs and pepper
spray to subdue pipeline protesters.
(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York and Timothy
Mclaughlin in Chicago.; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Cynthia