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Dakota Access: Army Corps examining pipeline route

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World Pipelines,

President Obama is reported to have stated that the US Army Corps of Engineers is examining whether the Dakota Access oil pipeline can be rerouted in order to alleviate concerns of Native Americans, which have been supported globally.

According to NowThis, Obama told the online news outlet that his administration is monitoring the situation closely. He stated: "as a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans, and I think that right now the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline.”

The White House stated that the Corps is exploring several range of options in order to address the concerns raised by tribal officials and other supporters of the Natives who are located globally. Moreover, the Army, the Justice Department and the Interior Department have been discussing how to prevent future disputes with the federal government over public works projects with tribal governments.

The pipeline is set to carry oil from North Dakota, through South Dakota and Iowa, to a shipping point at Patoka (Illinois).

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in particular, objects to the 900 km (1200 mile), US$3.8 billion pipeline as they argue that it could threaten their drinking water and put sacred sites at risk, or even destroy them. The Tribe has since chosen to sue federal regulators for approving permits at over 200 water crossings.

The Justice Department has asked pipeline developer, Energy Transfer Partners, to voluntarily stop construction within approximately 32 km of the lake. However, construction has continued on private land.

Obama called it "a challenging situation,” adding that "there's an obligation for protesters to be peaceful and there's an obligation for authorities to show restraint."

According to The Washington Post, the debate over the pipeline has come down to a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ decision by the Army Corps of Engineers as to whether the pipeline can cross a small section of federal land at the Missouri River. If the Corps chooses to give Dakota Access a green light to proceed, there could be another potentially dangerous confrontation between an increasingly militarised construction effort and demonstrators. If the Corps decides to conduct more studies, peace is protected while the critical issues receive needed attention.

Obama indicated that his administration is considering the latter approach.

The Tribe has much support, with the backing of celebrities including Mark Ruffalo and Shailene Woodley. Moreover, the Dakota pipeline protesters have raised over US$1 million through crowdfunding. Their initial target was a modest US$5000, enough to help a few dozen protesters camping in North Dakota to oppose the pipeline’s construction.

Protests – involving clashes with police and pipeline security – have lasted several months in North Dakota, where hundreds of people have set up a large camp on Corps land. More than 400 protesters have been arrested since August. No serious injuries have been reported.

Obama also stated: "I want to make sure that as everybody is exercising their constitutional rights to be heard, that both sides are refraining from situations that might result in people being hurt."

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