MORTON COUNTY, N.D. — Anyone taking supplies to the activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline now face a $1,000 fine — all part of the attempt to dislodge activists from camps set up there.
First, the US Army Corps of Engineers warned that activists who refuse to leave the camps could face arrest. That was last week and since then, officials have backtracked, saying they have no plans to forcibly remove anyone.
Now, the North Dakota governor, Jack Dalrymple, is taking a different tack. He’s ordered protesters to clear out immediately, because winter’s coming. He said the temporary dwellings pose serious public safety concerns.
And the $1,000 fine is part of that approach.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department could not be reached for comment. But this is how spokeswoman Maxine Herr explained it to KFYR in a statement:
“Any person who chooses to enter, reenter, or stay in the evacuation area does so at their own risk, and assumes any or all corresponding liabilities for their unlawful presence and occupation of the evacuation area.”
What that means, she says, is “if delivery trucks are observed going into the evacuation area they will be notified that they are guilty of the infraction and could receive up to a $1,000 fine if they continue.”
Herr said authorities will be “passively” enforcing the governor’s order, meaning there will not be a roadblock, but anyone entering the area will be notified that they are trespassing and penalized.
The $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline project — which would move 470,000 barrels of crude oil a day across four states — has been vigorously protested for months by environmental activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who say it will affect drinking supplies and place downstream communities at risk of contamination from potential oil spills.
Protesters have vowed to stand their ground.