In an interview with NowThis News Tuesday, President Obama said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently determining if the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) can be rerouted to avoid overrunning Native American burial grounds and curtail the risk of contaminating drinking water.
Three federal executive departments temporarily halted construction of the pipeline on public land Friday, Sept. 9, after a District Court judge denied a request by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that an injunction be issued against the pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners. However, DAPL has continued to be built on private property which includes land considered sacred to the Standing Rock people.
Since DAPL protests began in August, over 400 have been arrested in North Dakota, mainly around Morton County, where confrontations with law enforcement have re-escalated recently. Mr. Obama said he wants to “let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans.”
Executive Director of the National Sheriff’s Association, Jonathan Thompson, was critical of the president’s seemingly nonchalant attitude toward the increasing violence in south-central North Dakota.
“Letting it play out, as the president recommended, puts precious lives — protesters, workers, tribal members, ranchers, farmer and law enforcement — in danger,” he said. “Unless the president can provide us with assistance and support, (Obama) should be held partially responsible for the fear, terror and damage caused by violent, militant out-of-state agitators.”
The main contention between local residents and environmentalists, and energy advocates, is a 38-mile stretch of pipeline scheduled to be built underneath Lake Oahe, which serves as a reservoir for the vital Missouri River.
As a result of the violent nature of recent stand-offs between the Morton County Sheriff’s Department and protesters, Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday, Oct. 24, requesting an investigation by the Justice Department into the “overall militarization of law enforcement response.”
The tribal leader also complained to Lynch that the police have “increasingly taken steps to militarize their presence, to intimidate (protesters) . . . and to escalate tensions and promote fear.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 26, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a NOTAM restricting flights over the four nautical miles of protest area to only more than 3500 feet above the ground, effective until Saturday at 12 p.m. EST.
Most recently, anti-pipeline activists built a makeshift wooden bridge Wednesday over the Cannonball River to access private land where DAPL is currently being constructed. The Corps of Engineers subsequently ordered Morton County authorities “to remove the bridge and arrest any individuals who cross the river for criminal trespass,” according to the local sheriff’s department.
[RT America] [NPR] [BBC] [Photo courtesy Fox News]