PIERRE, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is proposing legislation ahead of the Keystone XL oil pipeline’s construction that she says would create a way to go after out-of-state money that funds pipeline protests.
The Republican governor says her bill would let the state follow such money and “cut it off at the source.”
Noem would also set up a fund to cover extraordinary law enforcement costs that could come with intense pipeline opposition.
Noem’s bills come after opponents of the Dakota Access oil pipeline staged large protests that resulted in 761 arrests in southern North Dakota over a six-month span beginning in late 2016. The state spent tens of millions of dollars policing the protests.
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is objecting to the bills.
The civil liberties group says the bills may threaten freedom of speech and the right to protest.
Libby Skarin, policy director for the ACLU of South Dakota, says, “At best, these bills are entirely unnecessary. At worst, they are meant to chill free speech.”
Skarin also says introducing new bills at this late stage of the legislative session is “problematic.”