Daugaard Supports Pipeline Protest Bill

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Governor Dennis Daugaard says he doesn’t want the violent pipeline protests in North Dakota spilling over into South Dakota.    

Daugaard Thursday called on lawmakers to spell out his authority in declaring emergencies to include large protests.  

Daugaard says demonstrators could gather in South Dakota to protest completion of the Keystone XL pipeline now that President Trump has given the green-light to proceed with project. Keystone XL, which was held up by the Obama administration, would travel from Canada through South Dakota and Nebraska, before connecting to refineries in the Gulf Coast.  

The Transcanada company has now filed paperwork to build the pipeline in Nebraska. Should construction ramp-up in South Dakota, Daugaard says the state needs to be ready in case large crowds of protesters show up at the site.

Governor Daugaard says he wants to avoid the clashes that flared up between Dakota Access Pipeline protesters and North Dakota law enforcement. Daugaard says he’s been talking with North Dakota’s governor about how to respond should protests against the Keystone XL pipeline get of hand in South Dakota.

“Certainly, the Keystone XL pipeline would be a likely prompt to these types of demonstrations,” Daugaard said.

The bill would give the governor the authority to declare public safety zones at protest sites. Trespassers who enter those sites could go to jail for up to ten days.

“Certainly, we know in North Dakota there were some instances where persons were charged and went straight back to the scene of the crime, if you will, and proceed to behave as they had before and we’re trying to interrupt that revolving door,” Daugaard said.

The bill would also make it a crime to block traffic on roads.  Critics say bills cracking down on pipeline protesters violate the First Amendment right to free speech and unfairly target Native Americans. But Daugaard says that’s not the intent of the South Dakota bill.

“This is not directed at any race, this is directed at aggressive activists who threaten other people, regardless of race,” Daugaard said.

The bill would also streamline the process to bring attorneys from out-of-state into South Dakota to represent protesters who are arrested. The goal is to reduce any potential backlog of cases.  

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