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Dakota Access Pipeline protests

Nathan Phillips and Raymond Kingfisher, center, march out of the Oceti Sakowin camp with hundreds of other Dakota Access Pipeline protesters during the evacuation of the camp mandated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Gov. Doug Burgum on Feb. 22, 2017.

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a claim Friday that seeks $38 million from the federal government to reimburse the state for costs related to the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.

North Dakota claims law enforcement and other protest-related costs resulted from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ failure to enforce the law.

“The corps is responsible for maintaining order and safety on lands that it manages,” Stenehjem said in an interview Friday.

The state alleges the protests that began in August 2016 and continued for nearly eight months were aggravated by the “negligent and unlawful conduct by the corps.”

The state alleges the corps failed to enforce the law related to private conduct on federal lands under its jurisdiction. If the law was enforced, it “would have prevented or minimized the civil unrest and resulting damages to North Dakota,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

Stenehjem added he’s pursuing this claim because it’s not fair to North Dakota taxpayers to bear the burden for the corps’ failure to enforce the law.

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North Dakota’s claim was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

The federal government has six months to respond to the state’s claim. If it is not paid or settled, North Dakota can file a lawsuit to recover its damages in federal court.

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