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Friday, December 2nd 2016
Associated Press North Dakota News
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. CST

Next test for pipeline protesters: the North Dakota winter

CANNON BALL, N.D. (AP) — So far, the protesters fighting the Dakota Access pipeline have shrugged off the heavy snow, icy winds and frigid temperatures that have swirled around their large encampment on the North Dakota grasslands.

But if they defy next week's government deadline to abandon the camp, demonstrators know the real deep freeze lies ahead. That's when the full weight of winter descends on their community of nylon tents and teepees. The season is bound to bring life-threatening wind chills and towering snow drifts.

The government has ordered protesters to leave federal land by Monday, but they insist they will stay for as long it takes to divert the $3.8 billion pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe believes it threatens sacred sites and a river that provides drinking water for millions of people.


Ace Hardware denies ban on sales to pipeline protesters

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Ace Hardware chain is denying widely circulated reports that it was refusing to sell camping supplies to protesters demonstrating against the Dakota Access oil pipeline in North Dakota.

Some supporters of the protest tweeted what was said to be a statement from Ace that said stores near the area were asked by law enforcement officials to "refrain from selling material that could be used at the camps." The largest encampment set up in opposition to the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline has been called the largest gathering of Native American tribes in a century.

Ace spokeswoman Anna Wyrwas said in a statement Thursday that the chain hasn't banned product sales at any Ace store. And a state official denies law enforcement ever ordered Ace to halt sales to demonstrators.


Mixed feelings: Trump might rob state Democrats of last star

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Speculation that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota could be offered a job in President-elect Donald Trump's cabinet comes as bittersweet news to a beleaguered state Democratic Party.

Heitkamp is scheduled to meet Trump Friday in New York City. She says she has received no details about the meeting.

Democrats in North Dakota have no elected state officials and are overwhelmed in the Legislature. Party leaders say a Heitkamp re-election campaign for senator would give the party a needed boost.

Should Heitkamp join the Trump administration, Democrats still have some hope because the state's governor no longer has the authority to pick a replacement. Thanks to a Republican-sponsored bill passed during the last session, lawmakers changed the procedure to allow for a special election to fill vacancies for U.S. senators.


Veterans' group criticizes vets joining pipeline protest

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Some military veterans are taking issue with other veterans' plans to join a protest against the four-state, $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

North Dakota Veterans Coordinating Council president Russ Stabler says his organization is trying to discourage the 2,000 veterans with "Veterans Stand for Standing Rock" from going to the encampment starting Sunday.

Stabler says his group supports anyone who wants to protest peacefully, but believes the pipeline demonstrations have not been conducted in "the military manner in which our veterans behave."

The Morton County Sheriff's Department also released a video that features a veteran who is critical of the group.

The veterans' group says they're going to defend protesters against "assault and intimidation at the hands of the militarized police force" and pipeline security.


Slawson Exploration to resolve ND air pollution claims

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Slawson Exploration Company Inc. has agreed to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations in North Dakota.

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the settlement Thursday. As part of the settlement, Slawson Exploration agreed to pay a $2.1 million civil penalty.

The settlement resolves claims that Slawson Exploration failed to adequately design, operate and maintain vapor control systems on its storage tanks at about 170 oil and natural gas well pads in North Dakota, resulting in emissions of volatile organic compounds — a key component in forming smog or ground-level ozone.

The Denver-based company agreed to improve emission control systems on its oil storage facilities in the Williston Basin.

Slawson Exploration president Todd Slawson says the company takes public health and environmental protection "very seriously."


Red River diversion group seeks to have legal hurdle removed

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Supporters of a Red River diversion channel around Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, say a lawsuit filed by upstream opponents should be thrown out and the project should move forward.

The Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority plans to begin work soon on the $2.1 billion project. A lawsuit filed by upstream residents whose land would be flooded in times of high water says construction should not be able to start until it receives permits from the state of Minnesota.

The diversion authority says that any work that would impact Minnesota will be done by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a federal judge has ruled that the corps is exempt from Minnesota environmental law.

Upstream opponents on Wednesday asked a judge to halt the project until the permits are issued.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, December 1st 2016
Associated Press North Dakota News
Latest North Dakota news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. CST

Red River diversion foes ask federal judge to halt project

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Opponents of a Red River diversion channel around Fargo and Moorhead, Minnesota, are asking a judge to halt the project until supporters receive permits from Minnesota to build an upstream dam.

The motion filed Wednesday in federal court says plans by local, state and federal sponsors to move forward on the $2.1 billion project without the permits violate federal and state laws.

Fargo-Moorhead Diversion Authority attorney Robert Cattanach said he plans to file his response on Thursday.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said in October that it would not grant a permit for the dam because the agency believes the idea is flawed and there are better options for flood control.

Diversion supporters say the DNR's decision should not stop work from starting in North Dakota.


North Dakota borrows $7M more for pipeline protest costs

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota leaders will borrow an additional $7 million to cover the cost of law enforcement related to the ongoing protest of the four-state Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The state's Emergency Commission voted Wednesday to borrow the funds from the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. The commission is headed by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

The group earlier approved $10 million in emergency spending.

Officials say the new loan should cover the state's cost of policing protests over the $3.8 billion pipeline through December.

Dalrymple says requests for reimbursement from the federal government have been unsuccessful.

Pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners says it made an offer to reimburse the state for policing costs. Dalrymple says he is not aware of an offer and it's unclear whether the state could legally accept it.


Body found after Fargo apartment fire

(Information from: KFGO-AM, http://www.kfgo.com)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Authorities say a body was found after fire broke out in a Fargo apartment.

Fire Chief Steve Dirksen tells KFGO-AM firefighters discovered the body in a second-floor apartment in north Fargo once the fire was extinguished.

Dirksen says it's too early to say how the person died.

The fire was reported just after noon Wednesday. Fire and police investigators were at the scene.



Winter storm winding down in North Dakota

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Travel is some parts of the Dakotas remains dicey on the third day of a winter storm that has dumped more than a foot of snow in some spots.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation says travel is challenging on Interstate 94 from Mandan to Dickinson, but that stretch has been reopened. Compacted snow and blowing and drifting have reduced visibility on sections of the interstate.

Some schools in North Dakota remained closed for another day, while schools in South Dakota delayed the start of classes. Dickinson State University classes in Dickinson and Bismarck were canceled.

The National Weather Service in Bismarck says the winter storm will gradually wind down Wednesday, although a winter storm warning remained in effect until evening.


North Dakota governor reviews cybersecurity recommendations

(Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A task force on capital cybersecurity has submitted its recommendations to the governor of North Dakota.

The Bismarck Tribune reports that topics in the report include improving monitoring and scanning of the state's information technology network, finalizing a response plan to addressing cyberattacks and proposing legislation for cyber insurance.

North Dakota Information Technology Department deputy chief information officer Dan Sipes says whether anything from the report is used by the incoming administration remains to be seen. Sipes says governor-elect Doug Burgum should be good to work with on issues of cybersecurity because he is a former software company executive.

Sipes says it's encouraging to see that the agency leaders who have discussed the issue agreed on advancing the state as one entity rather than agencies attempting to take individual methods to protect data.



Midwest economic survey shows improvement in November

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A monthly survey of business supply managers shows improvement but still reflects relatively weak economic conditions in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Thursday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 46.5 in November from 43.8 in October.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says he expects the overall regional economy will continue to underperform the national economy because of the region's dependence on agriculture and energy.

The survey results are compiled into a collection of indexes ranging from zero to 100. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. A score below that suggests decline.

The survey covers Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.