Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 02:22 pm

Gov. Doug Burgum issued the following statement today after the Army recommended that the U.S. Department of Justice should engage in settlement talks over North Dakota’s claim that the federal government should reimburse the state for $38 million in costs related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests. 

“From the beginning, we’ve argued that North Dakota taxpayers shouldn’t bear the brunt of the enormous costs of law enforcement and other resources expended on the DAPL protests and cleanup,” Burgum said. “We welcome the Army’s recommendation and encourage the Justice Department to do the right thing and reach a settlement agreement with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.”

The recommendation from Under Secretary of the Army James McPherson comes on the heels of a recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Traynor allowing the Federal Tort Claims Act lawsuit filed by Stenehjem against the Army Corps of Engineers in July 2019 to proceed. The lawsuit seeks to hold the federal government accountable for $38 million in costs expended by the state related to unlawful conduct that occurred during the pipeline protests.

In his letter to the Justice Department dated Friday, McPherson stated, “To avoid protracted and costly litigation, particularly in light of the harm that occurred in this case, I request that you consider engaging in settlement discussions with North Dakota to determine whether a reasonable solution is within reach.”