SENIOR STAFF WRITER
In August, North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple declared a statewide emergency. The declaration started the process to receive emergency funding from the federal government and the opportunity to receive help from other states in the form of emergency management personnel, through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a decades-old mutual aid agreement between US states that was formed in response to 1992’s Hurricane Andrew.
The Compact has helped states re-cover from such natural disasters as hurricane Katrina in 2005, and has helped the state of Nebraska particularly when vehicles and personnel were needed to fight wildfires.
What natural disaster, what hurricane or wildfire, threatened the state of North Dakota so much that Governor Dalrymple had to declare a statewide state of emergency? Surely it was a natural disaster so threatening to the life and safety of North Dakota citizens that it merited a nationwide response?
In reality, Dalrymple activated the emergency declaration not for a hurricane, or a wildfire, or any other sort of disaster that would normally merit the use of the EMAC. He activated it, in his own words, because the protestors organized to oppose the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), were posing “public safety concerns.” It’s unclear how peaceful protestors in a relatively isolated rural location pose significant “public safety concerns,” and even less clear how the “concerns” are large enough to merit a nationwide response from emergency personnel.
It has become apparent that it wasn’t “public safety” Dalrymple was hoping to protect by abusing the EMAC: it was private profit. Pictures of the events the state deems “public safety risks” show a straggling line of protestors confronting a massive column of militarized police, replete with helicopters and military ground vehicles, now reinforced with police forces from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana, Ohio and Nebraska. The reason for this multi-state operation? To protect the profits of a single company against a Native American tribe and all those worried about the environmental effects of another polluting pipeline in the ground.
Our state sent Nebraska State Patrol troops to North Dakota to aid in the repression of peaceful protestors, many who are Native American, who are resisting the incursion by oilmen on traditional Native American water sources and burial grounds. The troopers were sent with the explicit approval of Governor Pete Ricketts, who later said he was “happy” to send the troops.
Ricketts, who has already strained the bounds of what can feasibly be considered incorrupt behavior, by pouring hundreds of thousands of his own money into political measures and political races in the state, most recently gained national media attention for attempting to buy himself a more docile legislature, is again flirting with outright corruption.
The company his father founded and from which he derives the money he’s now using to buy legislative races, TD Ameritrade, is owned in part and derives its name from TD Securities, a Canadian investment bank. TD Securities has invested “about $365 million in loans and credit” into the pipeline, according to a report in the Lincoln Journal Star. Those who derived their fortune from the TD brand, especially in the case of Ricketts, who served as chief operating officer of TD Ameritrade and formerly sat on the board, have about $365 million reasons to push the pipeline through for the benefit of the mother company.
Ricketts has again shown his propensity to push the limits of corruption. It seems making illegal drug deals overseas, pouring money into a supposedly citizen-led petition drive and pouring even more money into supposedly bipartisan legislative races, isn’t enough for Ricketts. Now he has sent Nebraska State Troopers hundreds of miles to a state he doesn’t even govern, all in the defense of profit for a pipeline and the bank that made him fabulously wealthy.
We must demand that Ricketts recall the troopers and end the farcical corruption he has continually wallowed in.