The US Army Corps of Engineers says it isn't going to force more than 5,000 pipeline protesters off land where they've been camping since August— despite having told them that they need to leave. "The Army Corps of Engineers is seeking a peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location," the agency said in a statement, per Reuters. "This will reduce the risk of harm to people in the encampments caused [by] the harsh North Dakota winter conditions." The agency says it has no plans for "forcible removal" of the protesters when it shuts off access to the area north of North Dakota's Cannonball River on Dec. 5, though Dakota Access Pipeline protesters who remain could be prosecuted for trespassing.
Protesters, many of them from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, say they're going to stay put after the deadline expires. But local Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier, whose officers used a water cannon on protesters amid freezing temperatures last week, tells the AP that he won't tolerate people breaking the law. "It's just not going to happen," he says. Gov. Jack Dalrymple says the federal government should take the lead in evicting protesters, though Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II tells the Bismarck Tribune that he believes the feds want to "reduce their liability" and will not act aggressively. (Donald Trump holds stock in the company building the $3.8 billion project.)