North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple has ordered Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to evacuate from territory the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deems prohibited due to unsafe winter weather conditions that have the "potential to endanger human life." Photo courtesy of North Dakota Office of the Governor
MORTON COUNTY, N.D., Nov. 29 (UPI) -- North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said he signed an emergency evacuation order to clear Dakota Access Pipeline protesters from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers territory.
Dalrymple said he signed an executive order to clear protesters from territory the Army Corps deemed prohibited due to "severe winter weather storm conditions" that have the "potential to endanger human life."
In the executive order, Dalrymple said the prohibited areas do not have the proper permanent sanitation infrastructure, adding that it also difficult for emergency personnel to effectively respond, particularly during winter weather conditions.
"The persons are ordered to leave the evacuation area immediately, and are further ordered not to return to the evacuation area," Dalrymple wrote in Executive Order 2016-08. "Any action or inaction taken by any party which encourages persons to enter, reenter, or remain in the evacuation area will be subject to penalties as defined in law."
Dalrymple's evacuation order follows the Army Corps' announcement this weekend that all lands north of the Cannonball River will be closed to the public as of Dec. 5 and a "free speech zone" will be established on Army Corps property south of the river.
In a statement, Greenpeace spokesperson Lilian Molina said it is not up to Dalrymple or the Army Corps to "decide whether an indigenous sovereign nation can remain on its own lands."
"The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has the right to self-determination in deciding its own destiny," Molina said in a statement. "The governor has overstepped his authority with this executive order."
If completed, the $3.7 billion pipeline will carry hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil from North Dakota oil fields to Illinois and then onto the southern U.S. coast. Some Native American tribes, including the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, launched protests against the 1,134-mile oil pipeline's construction.
Protesters have said police used tear gas and other non-lethal methods to disrupt the demonstrations.
"It's not surprising that a governor who received money from the companies behind the pipeline, and who has himself invested in fossil fuel companies, would be quick in attempts to clear the camp and pave the way for oil profits," Molina added. "Ironically, the same governor who ignored the use of rubber bullets and water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures against protectors now claims to want to remove them for their well-being through the winter."
"If Governor Dalrymple or the Army Corps of Engineers truly cared about the health and well-being of water protectors, they would put an end to the pipeline once and for all," Molina wrote.