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So, it’s official: The federal government has denied reimbursement of the security costs North Dakota incurred at Standing Rock during the protests against Dakota Access Pipeline.

As if watching my state's muddled handling of last year's unrest wasn’t painful and embarrassing enough, now I'm listening to officials whine because the feds won't pay for law enforcement interventions that state and county officials themselves initiated — without benefit of federal authorization. What is wrong with this picture? The way I learned it, if you want to call the tune, you'd better be prepared to pay the fiddler.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, in their questionable wisdom, mustered troops from near and far to suppress the First Amendment rights of nonviolent demonstrators, and defended the so-called right of a multi-billion-dollar fossil fuel corporation to threaten the lives and livelihood of sovereign Native American nations. Shamefully, they also introduced violence and militarism into a previously peaceful action by citizens.

The folks who should rightfully pay the fiddler for protecting their hoped-for, not-yet-approved pipeline river crossing would, of course, be DAPL. This multi-billion-dollar pipeline project more than justifies coughing up $38 million to protect their investment. Nowhere does state or federal law require citizens to subsidize the costs that private corporations incur in obtaining approvals or implementing plans. On an environmentally risky and controversial proposal like this, expenditures for security are to be expected. Whether or not DAPL budgeted for this contingency, however, would be totally beside the point. Absent this project, such security forces would never have been requisitioned. Accordingly, their cost should be covered by the private corporation that benefited. I rest my case.

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Now, can state officials please stop their whining and just send the appropriate itemized invoice for services to DAPL? We taxpayers have more important things for our elected and appointed officials to be doing.

Mary Conrad, Gackle

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