North Dakota bills targeting pipeline protests

19 January, 2017, 00:45 | Author: Lorraine Moran

A North Dakota bill written in response to the Standing Rock Dakota Access Pipeline protests would allow drivers to run over pedestrians in the road without legal or financial penalties, as long as it was unintentional. One would make it illegal for adults to hide their faces with masks, which would lead to easier identification of protesters and/or justify the arrests of those covering their faces.

This isn't the only backlash from lawmakers following the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests.

Kempenich is quoted by the Minnesota Star Tribune saying: "If you stay off the roadway, this would never be an issue. They're intentionally putting themselves in danger", he said.

Although the river crossing site is not on tribal land, the Corps' notice said, "The Tribe protests the crossing primarily because it relies on Lake Oahe for water for a variety of purposes, the Tribe's reservation boundaries encompass portions of Lake Oahe downstream from the proposed crossing, and the Tribe retains water, treaty fishing, and hunting rights in the Lake". "A driver of a motor vehicle who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway is not guilty of an offense".

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Along with Kempenich, other Republican backers of the bill include Michael Brandenburg, Vernon Laning, Bill Oliver, Karen Rohr, Dwight Cook and Donald Schaible.

This would bar any further environmental impact statements by the Corps of Engineers until a ruling is made on whether the company already has the necessary approvals for the pipeline crossing. You can get a list of those banks here.

On January 9, Kempenich sponsored a separate bill that would require the North Dakota attorney general to take legal action against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Justice. Another would let the state sue the federal government for the cost of policing the protests. According to North Dakota Republican representative Keith Kempenich, continued protests leave citizens "feeling terrorized".

"Knee-jerk legislation often is poor legislation", Democratic state Rep. Marvin Nelson said to ABC News. Protesters - called Water Protectors - and the Standing Rock tribe say the pipeline project would endanger water sources and imperil cultural heritage sites; the pipeline's supporters say it will bring jobs and boost the economy, decreasing reliance on foreign oil.

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