Dakota Access Pipeline Court Updates

  • New Federal Charges Filed Against Red Fawn
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Army Corps Side Against Dakota Access in Court Claim
  • Dakota Access Protest Policing Costs Exceed $22M

Red Fawn

from Bismarck Tribune

More federal charges have been filed against a pipeline protester accused of shooting toward law enforcement officers in October.

Red Fawn Fallis, 37, of Colorado, allegedly fired a gun while being arrested during a police raid of the northern “front line” Dakota Access Pipeline camp Oct. 27.

An indictment filed Jan. 5 charges her with felony counts of civil disorder and discharging a firearm in relation to a felony crime of violence — which, in this case, is civil disorder. These charges are in addition to an earlier charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Fallis pleaded not guilty to all charges Monday morning. A three-day trial was scheduled for March 7 with U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck.

If convicted of discharging the firearm, Fallis faces a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Federal public defender Neil Fulton, whose office is defending Fallis, said he has never seen a felony civil disorder charge in federal court.

“I don’t think it’s terribly common, but it exists on the books,” he said.

During a December preliminary hearing for Fallis on the firearm possession charge, a federal agent said she fired three shots from a gun in her left hand while officers tried to subdue her. She was being arrested because she was acting as an instigator, according to Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent Derek Hill.

 In addition, Hill stated that law enforcement found three spent casings in a revolver allegedly possessed by Fallis and two speed strips with six live rounds in each of her pockets. Fallis has a prior felony conviction for being an accessory to a crime in Colorado, Hill testified.

The gun allegedly involved was a .38-caliber Ruger revolver. A complaint filed in the case said a boyfriend of Fallis’ reported the same type of gun missing on Oct. 28.

Fallis’ case has drawn national attention, spawning a “Free Red Fawn” movement. A website started for her says she was working as a medic on Oct. 27, and while she was being arrested, “one officer pulled his weapon and placed it against her back. While she was pinned to the ground, shots were fired.”

Her cause has been endorsed by actors Jane Fonda and Mark Ruffalo, and an online fundraiser has solicited more than $57,000 on her behalf.

Magistrate Judge Charles Miller asked Fallis on Dec. 12 to fill out a financial affidavit relating to funds raised online, with the idea being that she may need to repay some of her public defense costs. No such affidavit has been filed in the public records system.

Fulton said his office is working with Fallis and investigating the case, which may be delayed from its March trial date.

“What’s next will depend on what we find,” Fulton said.

Lawsuit

from Bismarck Tribune

A lawsuit that originally pitted the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for improperly authorizing the Dakota Access Pipeline, now has both parties on the same side: They both are refuting the pipeline’s claim that it has all the necessary permission to bore under the Missouri River/Lake Oahe near the tribe’s reservation boundary.

The tribe and the corps filed briefs Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asking the judge to dismiss the pipeline’s suit against the corps, in which Dakota Access claims the agency had issued all the necessary permissions and permits to allow the company to proceed with the critical river crossing, which has been stalled for months at a huge expense to the company in undelivered crude oil contracts.

Meanwhile, the company has staged drilling equipment within sight of the Oceti Sakowin encampment, where 700 to 1,000 anti-pipeline protesters remain despite Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II’s request that they should leave.

Archambault made the request following the corps’ announcement Dec. 4 that it will not provide the easement while it recommended a complete environmental impact statement and a review of alternate routes, including one originally proposed 10 miles north of Bismarck. The chairman said the protest against the pipeline will be settled in court and protesters should leave for their safety given harsh winter conditions.

In its brief to the court, the corps says the pipeline’s claim should be dismissed.

“There is no signed document conveying to Dakota Access an easement to construct a pipeline under corps-managed land. The army is still considering (the) easement application,” the corps told federal Judge James Boasberg.

The pipeline company says it has the necessary permission and cites various communications from the corps, including permission under its Section 408 authority and in the corps’ finding of no significant impact for the project in July.

The tribe’s attorney, Jan Hasselman, of Earth Justice, said Dakota Access is in a mess of its own making.

“Its own choices — including building a significant portion of the pipeline before it had any permits and refusing to voluntarily cease construction in the disputed area around Lake Oahe, as the government repeatedly requested — are responsible for its current predicament,” Hasselman told the court.

He concurred with the corps statement that it has not provided an easement under the Mineral Leasing Act, which is separate from its Section 408 authority.

Archambault said the Dakota Access suit is a bully tactic intended to violate the tribe’s rights in the matter.

“It will not succeed. We look forward to working with the corps on an EIS that fully takes into account our history and our rights and are confident that the easement at Lake Oahe will ultimately be denied,” he said.

The tribe is still awaiting publication of a notice of intent to prepare an EIS to be published in the Federal Register.

Boasberg stayed any action on the original lawsuit between the tribe and corps, pending the outcome of the cross claim filed by Dakota Access.

Police

from AP

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The cost of policing the Dakota Access pipeline protests in North Dakota has surpassed $22 million — an amount that would fund the state Treasury Department for two decades and $5 million more than the state set aside last year.

Protest-related funding decisions will be made by state lawmakers during the 2017 session. Leaders of the House and Senate appropriation committees say more funding will be approved, though the amount and method isn’t known.

Rep. Jeff Delzer says state officials also still hope the federal government will help with funding.

“We’re not happy at all that the federal government is not ponying up. This should be their responsibility,” said Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “But the fact of the matter is, until they pony up we have to cover those costs.”

A large encampment in southern North Dakota swelled to thousands of opponents of the four-state, $3.8 billion project over the summer, and then-Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued an emergency declaration in August to cover law enforcement expenses related to protests. There have been nearly 600 arrests in the region since August, but the encampment has shrunk since Dec. 4, when the Army said study is needed on alternative locations for the pipeline to cross a Missouri River reservoir, as well as study on the potential for a leak and tribal treaty rights.

The Standing Rock Sioux and its supporters believe the project, which is to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois, threatens drinking water and Native American cultural sites, which Texas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners denies.

State-related enforcement costs have surpassed $20 million, with agencies such as the Corrections Department and Transportation Department using money from their own budgets with the intent of repaying it later, according to Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong. Morton County, where most of the protest activity has taken place, has another $2.5 million in costs not covered by the state, bringing the total cost to taxpayers to nearly $22.5 million. Most of the money is going to pay personnel costs.

Fong said legislation to provide money for the continued law enforcement response might include a funding ceiling, but Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said he thinks that’s unlikely.

“I don’t think we will put an artificial cap on the protection of our citizens,” he said.

http://earthfirstjournal.org/newswire/2017/01/10/dakota-access-pipeline-court-updates/#more-53830

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