Obama: ‘mulling’ other pipe­line routes


Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said the US gov­ern­ment is ex­am­in­ing ways to reroute an oil pipe­line in North Dakota as it ad­dresses con­cerns raised by Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes protest­ing against its con­struc­tion.

Obama’s com­ments late on Tues­day to on­line news site Now This were his first to di­rectly ad­dress the es­ca­lat­ing clashes be­tween local au­thor­i­ties and pro­test­ers over En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners’ $3.8 bil­lion Dakota Ac­cess pipe­line project.

“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,” Obama said in the video in­ter­view.

The US Depart­ment of Jus­tice did not com­ment on Obama’s state­ment re­gard­ing rerout­ing the line, cit­ing pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion in­volv­ing the tribes and an on­go­ing re­view of per­mit­ting by the US Army Corps of En­gi­neers.

“Ul­ti­mately, this is a de­ter­mi­na­tion the Army must make based on its own re­view, and we don’t yet know what that de­ci­sion will be,” a Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman said.

On Wed­nes­day, pro­test­ers on the banks of the Can­tapeta Creek con­fronted law en­force­ment, as they at­tempted to build a wooden pedes­trian bridge across the creek to gain ac­cess to the Can­non Ball Ranch, pri­vate land owned by ETP, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Mor­ton County of­fi­cials.

The US Jus­tice and In­te­rior de­part­ments along with the Army Corps of En­gi­neers halted con­struc­tion on part of the pipe­line in Septem­ber due to protests by Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes who con­tend the pipe­line would dis­turb sa­cred land and pol­lute wa­ter­ways sup­ply­ing nearby homes.

The af­fected area in­cludes land un­der Lake Oahe, a large and cul­tur­ally im­por­tant reser­voir on the Mis­souri River where the line was sup­posed to cross. The Army Corps of En­gi­neers con­firmed Wed­nes­day that it let law en­force­ment go into this land to pre­vent fur­ther camp­sites from be­ing set up.

Con­struc­tion is con­tin­u­ing on sec­tions of the pipe­line away from the Mis­souri River, ac­cord­ing to one of the own­ers of the pipe­line and also to US re­finer Phillips 66.

The 1,172-mile pipe­line, be­ing built by a group of com­pa­nies led by En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners, would of­fer the fastest and most di­rect route to bring Bakken shale oil from North Dakota to US Gulf Coast re­finer­ies.

North Dakota of­fi­cials are brac­ing for a long fight. The state’s emer­gency com­mis­sion on Tues­day ap­proved an­other $4 mil­lion loan to sup­port law en­force­ment dur­ing the protests.


Po­lice use pep­per spray against pro­test­ers try­ing to cross a stream near an oil pipe­line con­struc­tion site near Stand­ing Rock In­dian Reser­va­tion, north of Can­non Ball, North Dakota on Wed­nes­day.

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