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North Dakota sues Dakota Access over farmland ownership

By BLAKE NICHOLSON
Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (STEHN'-juhm) is suing the developer of the Dakota Access oil pipeline over agricultural land the company owns.

Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners bought the ranchland in 2016 in an area where thousands of pipeline opponents had gathered to protest.

Large corporations can't own farmland under North Dakota law. But Stenehjem reached a deal with the company under which he didn't immediately sue because he deemed the purchase temporarily necessary to provide a safer environment for pipeline workers.

The deal expired June 30. Stenehjem wants the court to fine the company $25,000 and order it to sell the land within a year or face more fines.

ETP spokeswoman Lisa Dillinger declined comment Tuesday. The company has about three weeks to file a formal response in court.

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