Hoeven Joined by Stockmen's Association Head to Press for Resolution to Dakota Access Pipeline Project

Senator, Stockmen’s Association Vice President Meet with Interior Secretary and Top Corps Officials

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today was joined by Julie Schaff Ellingson, the executive vice president of North Dakota Stockmen’s Association, in calling on the Obama Administration and the Corps to issue an easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and put an end to the unrest affecting the ranching community. Ellingson and her husband are fourth and fifth generation ranchers and farmers in the area of the protests.

The senator arranged meetings in his Washington office with administration officials so that they could hear firsthand from someone who could speak on behalf of residents directly impacted by some of the lawless protest activity. The senator and Ellingson met with Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell; Assistant Secretary Lowry Crook for the Corps of Engineers; and Major General Donald Jackson, Deputy Commanding General for Civil and Emergency Operations with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Ellingson described instances of trespassing, vandalism, theft and fire on privately owned ranchland. She also emphasized the challenges caused by roads being blocked or closed either by protest activity or law enforcement’s response to it to ensure safety at a time when farmers and ranchers are busy harvesting, hauling hay, shipping calves and moving their herds from summer pasture.

In addition, Ellingson said law enforcement has also seen several cases of butchered, mutilated, injured and missing cattle, horses and bison over recent weeks in areas adjacent to sites occupied by protesters. To date, six bison, six cows and two horses have been found dead, two cows have been shot and injured and more than 30 cows and calves have been reported missing. The cases are still under investigation, but illustrate the safety risk that may exist for landowners, livestock and others occupying the area.

“Everyone’s first priority must be public safety,” Hoeven said. “Farmers, ranchers and all who live and work in the area must not be intimidated and threatened by violent protesters, most of whom have come from out of state. Law enforcement officers have done a remarkable job of showing restraint, even when they have been assaulted in the course of asking the protesters to leave private property. They need help, but more importantly, they need to see this issue resolved so that life can get back to normal. We will continue to press the administration and the Corps, as we did today, to make a determination approving the easement.”

“Over the past couple months, this farming and ranching community has been turned on its head and private property rights have been under siege,” Ellingson said. “We're hopeful the federal agencies acknowledge the severity of the situation and that their inaction leaves farmers, ranchers and their property in a compromised and sometimes dangerous position.”