BISMARCK – Gov. Doug Burgum issued the following statement today in response to the executive action by President Donald Trump directing federal agencies to expedite the review and approval process for the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“After months of politically driven and costly delays by the Obama administration, President Trump has moved this important infrastructure project one step closer to completion,” Burgum said. “This pipeline underwent an exhaustive review process and was twice upheld by federal courts. We ask that the Trump administration provide federal law enforcement resources to assist in upholding the law and protecting people and property rights as the project moves toward completion under Lake Oahe.”
In a memo to the Secretary of the Army, Trump stated that he believes “construction and operation of lawfully permitted pipeline infrastructure serve the national interest.” The memo did not grant the easement for the Lake Oahe crossing or permit drilling to begin immediately, but directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review and approve “in an expedited manner” requests to construct the pipeline, and consider prior reviews and determinations as satisfying all applicable requirements of federal law.
“As the legal and political process continues to unfold, we remain squarely focused on life safety and protecting all citizens, including the protesters still camped in a flood zone in southern Morton County,” Burgum said. “We strongly support the Standing Rock Tribal Council’s unanimous vote Friday asking those remaining at the camps to vacate the area and head home to allow cleanup to happen before spring flooding begins. While we support free speech and the right to peacefully protest, we are concerned about safety due to flooding and ongoing violent protests, including last Wednesday’s incident on the Backwater Bridge that resulted in 21 arrests.”
“We all care about clean water in North Dakota. As this situation has unfolded, it has become a political flashpoint for many causes unrelated to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s original concerns,” Burgum said. “Moving ahead, our administration is committed to government-to-government consultation and an inclusive permitting process that represents the viewpoints of all interested parties. We look forward to a return to collaborative dialogue and improved relations so we can collectively focus our energy on addressing the important issues facing the tribes in our state.”