The North Dakota National Guard had deployed a missile defense system to the area near the protest site, but it was unarmed and being used only for observation purposes, said Amber Balken, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota National Guard. "You can protest all you want, but you can't protest up on a roadway". He added that protesters are welcomed to express their point of view for how long they want to, but they have no right to invade the motorists' driving space as this could be unsafe to all the parties involved.
Kempenich says this does not protect anyone who intentionally hits someone. "A driver of a motor vehicle who unintentionally causes injury or death to an individual obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway is not guilty of an offense".
"We remain optimistic that the incoming Trump administration will soon issue the final easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline and also demonstrate a willingness to support American infrastructure projects and the American jobs that go along with them", he said.
In recent weeks, the Obama administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a glimmer of hope for protesters, denying a final, vital easement in the Lake Oahe are to the companies behind the pipeline. Construction is almost complete outside of a stretch under Lake Oahe, a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota. A bill introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson would make wearing a mask or hood to hide your identity illegal.
The project has sparked protests with violent clashes involving local law enforcement officials, who have used dogs, water cannons, tear gas and physical violence in unsuccessful attempts to end the standoff.
Protesters at Standing Rock Indian Reservation are opposing a project that involves transporting oil from North Dakota approximately 1,200 miles away to a shipping point in IL through Iowa and South Dakota. Kempenich said he anxious about drivers, panicked by coming across a group of people standing in a public roadway, "if they'd have punched the accelerator rather than the brakes".
But there are dissenters over the bills, including Democratic state Rep. Marvin Nelson of Rolla. According to North Dakota Republican representative Keith Kempenich, continued protests leave citizens "feeling terrorized".