Gov. Dalrymple issues state of emergency in response to pipeline protests
BISMARCK—North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency declaration for southwest and south-central North Dakota in response to protests against the Dakota Access pipeline near Cannon Ball.
The declaration starts a process by which state agencies can get additional funding, said Greg Wilz, director of the Homeland Security Division of the state Department of Emergency Services.
Dalrymple said in the declaration that the state is committed to protecting the right to lawful protests, but recent events have created a "significant public safety concern."
The protests have grown substantially over the past week as about 1,500 people have gathered to demonstrate against the pipeline being drilled under the Missouri River. Large campsites have been established for the protesters. Twenty-eight people have been arrested during the demonstrations.
The Morton County Sheriff's Department has been the central law enforcement agency involved in monitoring the protests, but several state agencies have gotten involved.
North Dakota Highway Patrol has sent officers to the protest site, Wilz said. The health department has provided portable water trailers and a medical trailer at the protest camp. The transportation department has assisted with the road detour on Highway 1806 and put up barriers and signage.
Wilz said he will be looking at funding requests from the agencies, make an estimate and ask the emergency commission for an appropriation. The commission can authorize emergency services to get a loan from the Bank of North Dakota.
Wilz estimated the additional resources could cost from $750,000 to $1 million, if the protests continue for the next few weeks.
The declaration also means an emergency operations center will be set up in the emergency services building, so that the agencies can coordinate their resources, Wilz said.
The money does not funnel directly into the local agencies, such as the Morton County Sheriff's Department. Rather, it reimburses the state agencies that provide personnel and material resources to local authorities.
Morton County declared its own state of emergency on Monday, for the purpose of tapping into its emergency fund and creating public awareness, said Cody Schulz, chairman of the county commission.
Schulz said the biggest expense for the county has been law enforcement, including overtime for the sheriff's deputies and assistance from other agencies, including the Mandan Police and the Cass and Mercer County Sheriffs.
The governor's emergency order does not include activation of the National Guard.