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North Dakota awarded $10 million from feds for DAPL protest costs

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Hundreds of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters clashed with law enforcement as they were forced from the Front Line Camp located on DAPL land to the Oceti Wakoni overflow camp a few miles down the road on Highway 1806 in Morton County on Oct. 27, 2016.

The U.S. Department of Justice awarded North Dakota $10 million to help cover the costs associated with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, the state’s senators said Tuesday.

The $10 million represents only a portion of the $38 million the state and Morton County have incurred from the monthslong protests, during which some 1,400 law enforcement officers assisted. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., previously said the state shouldn't expect the federal government to cover the entire bill, and Gov. Doug Burgum's request to President Donald Trump for a major disaster declaration was denied earlier this year.

The state applied for almost $14 million through the DOJ's Emergency Federal Law Enforcement Assistance program in late June. Both Hoeven and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., will pursue more funding, their offices said Tuesday.

"Ensuring the safety of everyone in the area during the protests was a tremendous undertaking for our law enforcement," Hoeven said in a statement. "Considering the protester camp was allowed to remain on federal land and the Obama administration's decision to prolong the situation and refusal to enforce the law, it only makes sense that the federal government should shoulder a share of the cost.”

Heitkamp, like Hoeven, touted her efforts to secure money from a program that previously lacked sufficient funds. A government spending bill included $15 million for the EFLEA program earlier this year.

“It’s an encouraging step forward that our state is now getting much of what it is due so our law enforcement can continue to do their jobs and serve a critical public service,” Heitkamp said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Hoeven signaled support for pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners’ offer to help pay the state’s law enforcement costs, although he said there’s no requirement that the company do so.

“I’m fine with them providing some reimbursement,” he said. “I think they will provide some reimbursement, but it’s just a matter of working through it, making sure it’s done in the right way.”

An ETP spokeswoman didn’t return an email by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Burgum called the $10 million a “good start.”

“We will continue to pursue all available avenues for reimbursing North Dakota taxpayers,” he said in a statement.

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