- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The North Dakota congressional delegation called Tuesday on the Obama administration to kick in funding for law enforcement following attacks on livestock near the Dakota Access pipeline protest camp.

On Monday, one cow was found shot and another with two arrows embedded in its rib cage. A few days earlier, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association reported 30 head of cattle missing, four dead cows, three dead bison and a dead saddle horse.

The association, which has offered a $14,000 reward for information, said some of the livestock had been butchered.

While the perpetrators remain unknown, the attacks occurred near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, not far from the makeshift camps at which 1,500 to 2,500 demonstrators led by the Standing Rock Sioux continue to protest the pipeline project.

“When tensions are high, North Dakotans have always been able to count on one another to treat our neighbors, our land, and our livestock with dignity and respect,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, North Dakota Democrat. “That’s what makes the news of unlawful butchering and taking of livestock so appalling.”

The Obama administration has lent its support to the demonstration, calling on Energy Transfer Partners to halt voluntarily work on the four-state, 1,172-mile pipeline in response to objections raised by the tribe and national environmental groups, including Earthjustice.

In a Tuesday letter, the North Dakota delegation — Ms. Heitkamp, Republican Sen. Jim Hoeven and Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer — urged the Obama administration to provide additional support for state and local law enforcement.

“While we recognize Americans’ right to protest, we believe everyone also has a responsibility to follow the law,” said the letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite.

“Construction workers and local residents have expressed concern for their personal safety,” the letter said. “Furthermore, there have been reports of theft and damage to personal property. Increased support for law enforcement is necessary to ensure the protests do not escalate to a situation in which lives are in serious danger.”

The company has said it will proceed with work even as protests grow more disruptive. So far 143 people, most from outside North Dakota, have been arrested for rioting, trespassing on work sites and chaining themselves to equipment, while roads have been closed and schools have gone on lockdown.

Millions of dollars in construction equipment was burned and destroyed Saturday in what the pipeline company described as an “intentional” act in Iowa, while five Climate Direct Action activists were arrested last week in four states after shutting down pipelines in an act of solidarity with the Dakota Access protest.

Tribal chairman David Archambault II has insisted the protesters are peaceful, but authorities say about 200 to 300 individuals within the camps are believed to be responsible for an increase in local crime.

The delegation said the cost to county sheriffs has been $1.8 million, while state law enforcement has spent $3.75 million. The additional cost per week is estimated at $750,000 to $1 million, a level of funding “not sustainable for our state to maintain,” said the letter.

The tribe has argued that the pipeline threatens water quality and sacred burial sites, although a federal appeals court cleared the way last week for construction to resume following a two-year process in which the company consulted with the tribe and obtained the necessary federal environmental permits.

In an Oct. 10 statement, administration officials said they have slated a series of meetings on whether there should be “national reform on the tribal consultation process for these types of infrastructure projects.”

Mr. Cramer blamed the White House for the uptick in lawlessness, including the attacks on livestock.

“The administration is to blame for this senseless act,” Mr. Cramer said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the President and his bureaucrats will be able to hide behind sovereign immunity, providing no means for civil relief from those who are most at fault. Just what must occur before Washington will step in and end this?”

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