North Dakota Supreme Court will not rehear case establishing DAPL documents as public record

The high court rejected Energy Transfer's petition for rehearing in May less than a month after justices ruled that five-year-old documents connected to a partnership between the Dakota Access Pipeline operators and a private security firm are public record.

Horsemen spread the news of arriving law enforcement officers
Horsemen spread the news of arriving law enforcement officers Oct. 27, 2016, at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site on North Dakota Hwy. 1806 north of Cannon Ball. Michael Vosburg / The Forum
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BISMARCK — The North Dakota Supreme Court swatted down a last-gasp effort by the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline to keep internal documents out of the public eye.

The high court ruled in late April that five-year-old documents connected to a partnership between Dakota Access Pipeline operator Energy Transfer and a private security firm are public record.

Less than a month later, justices rejected Energy Transfer's request for a rehearing of the case. Petitions for rehearings are rarely approved.

The Supreme Court's April decision upheld a district court ruling that rejected an effort by Energy Transfer to keep private 16,000 documents pertaining to a partnership formed with security contractor TigerSwan during the pipeline protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2016 and 2017.

In the unanimous decision, the Supreme Court affirmed that Energy Transfer did not present any legitimate exemptions that would keep the trove of documents from being a public record.


First Look, the publisher of nonprofit news outlet The Intercept, sued a state regulatory board to access the records. Forum Communications Company, which owns Forum News Service, joined First Look with an amicus brief in Energy Transfer's case before the North Dakota Supreme Court.

A spokesperson for Energy Transfer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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