Hoeven Working to Secure More BIA Law Enforcement Officers to Address Pipeline Protests

Senator Meets with Interior Nominee, New BIA Director to Get Support for State and Local Authorities Dealing with Illegal Dakota Access Pipeline Protest Site

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) last week met with Interior Department nominee Congressman Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) and the new Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Bruce Loudermilk. In separate meetings, the senator urged them to provide state and local law enforcement authorities with additional BIA officers to address protesters who remain on Army Corps of Engineers land near the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) site.

The senator briefed both Zinke and Loudermilk on the challenges posed to state and local law enforcement by protesters illegally occupying Corps land. There have been instances of trespassing, vandalism, theft and fire on privately owned ranchland. Roads have been blocked or closed either by protest activity or law enforcement’s response to it.

Also the area where the protesters are situated is low-lying land adjacent to the Cannonball River. With unusually heavy snowpack this year, there will be spring flooding, which would put people in the area at risk.

“We want more BIA law enforcement officers working with state and local law enforcement to move protesters off the Corps land in an orderly way and keep people who live and work in the area safe,” Hoeven said. “In fact, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault has also called on the protesters to leave. So I have made that request to the new BIA Director, Bruce Loudermilk, to provide that law enforcement support. I’m also working forward with the Trump administration. I recently met with the Department of Interior nominee, Ryan Zinke, and made that same request.”

Congressman Zinke currently represents Montana at large in the House of Representatives. He serves on the House Committee on Natural Resources. In 2014, Zinke became the first Navy SEAL elected to the House. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Director Loudermilk is a long-time official at the BIA, which is a part of the Department of Interior, and has served in a number of senior positions. He was named director in November. He is a citizen of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes Reservation.