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Law enforcement beefing up presence ahead of Dakota Access ruling Friday

BISMARCK -- Authorities are beefing up their presence in the Bismarck-Mandan area in anticipation of a court decision expected Friday on the heavily protested Dakota Access Pipeline, a spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Wednesday...

BISMARCK -- Authorities are beefing up their presence in the Bismarck-Mandan area in anticipation of a court decision expected Friday on the heavily protested Dakota Access Pipeline, a spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said Wednesday, Sept. 7.

Spokesman Jeff Zent said plans are under way for additional law enforcement officers in the Bismarck-Mandan area and enhanced patrols in Morton County, where hundreds of protesters are camped out near a pipeline construction site along Highway 1806 about 35 miles south of Mandan.

Zent said he didn’t have any information on whether the North Dakota National Guard would be on standby, but said, “The governor has always said the National Guard is an option.”

Thirty-seven people have been arrested on charges including preventing arrest, disorderly conduct and criminal trespass in connection with protests at pipeline construction sites in Morton County that began in mid-August.

U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg in Washington, D.C., has said he will rule on or before Friday on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s request for an emergency injunction to halt construction of the pipeline, which will cross the Missouri River less than a mile north of the Standing Rock reservation. The tribe fears the pipeline will leak and contaminate its water supply and sacred sites, and its lawsuit claims the corps failed to consider the historical and cultural significance of that area.

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A permitted protest is scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday on the south end of the state Capitol mall in Bismarck to coincide with the ruling. A Facebook page for the “Peace Rally Against the Pipeline” showed more than 350 people planning to attend and 1,200 interested.

Zent said the governor’s office, state Highway Patrol and Morton County Sheriff’s Department will continue to monitor the situation and re-evaluate the need for law enforcement to ensure public safety. A roadblock restricting southbound traffic on Highway 1806 to local traffic only remains in place.

Protesters have said they expect the ruling to be appealed regardless of which way it goes, and that they plan to continue protesting until the four-state pipeline project is rerouted or scrapped. The 1,172-mile, $3.8 billion pipeline will initially carry 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oil fields to Patoka, Ill., with a capacity of 570,000 barrels per day.

Related Topics: DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE
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