North Dakota backs away from checking cars headed to pipeline protest
North Dakota law enforcement will not make spot checks on vehicles headed to the camp where activists are protesting a pipeline project near a Native American reservation, the governor’s office said on Wednesday.
The move suggests the state will not seek to actively enforce Monday’s emergency order to evacuate the camp issued by Governor Jack Dalrymple, who cited a coming blizzard.
Local law enforcement officials had said on Tuesday they planned a blockade of the camp – but they and state officials later retreated from that stance to say they would only check vehicles for certain prohibited supplies like propane, and potentially issue fines.
“The governor has said there will be no checkpoints, no stopping of vehicles,” said Jeff Zent, a spokesman for Republican Dalrymple.
Activists have spent months protesting plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.
The 1,172-mile (1,885 km) pipeline project, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir formed by a dam on the Missouri River.
(Additional reporting by Ernest Scheyder in Houston and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Matthew Lewis)