Army Corps urges DOJ to settle case with ND over $38M DAPL damages

Army Corps urges DOJ to settle case with ND over $38M DAPL damages
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging the federal government to settle a $38 million bill the state of North Dakota incurred as protestors challenged the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Corps said the federal government should “avoid costly and protracted litigation, particularly in light of the harm that occurred in this case.”

“I request that you consider engaging in settlement discussions with North Dakota to determine whether a reasonable resolution is within reach,” Army Under Secretary James McPherson wrote to the DOJ.


Protestors rushed to Standing Rock, N.D., for much of 2016 and 2017 to challenge the Dakota Access Pipeline, which crosses the Sioux reservation and was opposed by local tribes.

The state claims North Dakota law enforcement spent $38 million policing the protests and clearing damage, faulting the Corps for allowing protesters to camp without a permit. 

McPherson’s letter comes after a Bismarck, N.D.-based U.S. District Court judge denied an attempt by the DOJ to throw out North Dakota’s lawsuits to recover the funds.

Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenate passes bipartisan B water infrastructure bill Biden administration faces big decision on whether to wade into Dakota Access fight OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies MORE (R-N.D.) said the state is willing to fight if DOJ doesn’t agree to a settlement.

“At the end of the day I think we still will win, win under our terms and we'll probably get our lawyers fees paid, but it really is a waste of time and energy, and certainly money for the Department of Justice and the Department of Army to go into a project — protracted litigation when a settlement between friends would make much more sense,” he said in a video on twitter.

Cramer described the sentiment of the Army letter as, “Hey, we’re not winning this thing, guys.”


DOJ did not immediately respond to request for comment, nor did the North Dakota attorney general’s office. 

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been operational since it was completed in 2017, but it has faced numerous court challenges that have left its fate uncertain.

In August, a U.S. appeals court reversed a lower court’s ruling that the Dakota Access Pipeline should be temporarily shut down.