The Oceti Sakowin protest camp as it appeared on 3.17.2017, after cleanup operations had been completed by local officials.

Photo Credit: NDResponse.gov

The Oceti Sakowin protest camp as it appeared on 3.17.2017, after cleanup operations had been completed by local officials.

A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling rejecting the latest appeal by the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes on Saturday means that oil could begin flowing through the completed Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) this week. Once fully operational, the 30-inch pipeline will carry more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day out of the Bakken region in North Dakota to market, mitigating the current process of carrying the oil out of the basin via trucks and rail cars.

The commencement of flow through the DAPL represents the closure, of sorts, to one of the most hotly-contested pipeline construction projects in U.S. history, although a number of protesters remain in the area, presumably in the hopes of mounting efforts to disrupt operations in the future.  But all is quiet on the protest front for now, and the announcement early in March that cleanup of the huge mess the protesters left behind at the Oceti Sakowin protest site is complete also represents a sort of closure.

But as one source of controversy has closed, another has opened.  The question now is, with the State of North Dakota estimating that it and local authorities have incurred more than $38 million in costs related to the policing of the protesters and cleanup of the massive mess they made at Oceti Sakowin and other protest camps, who is ultimately going to pay the bill?