Obama: Al­ter­nate pipe­line path un­der ex­am­i­na­tion

Pres­i­dent says Army Corps look­ing into if project can be rerouted amid protests

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD - By James MacPher­son

BISMARCK, N. D. — Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has called for “peace” and “re­straint” on the dis­puted Dakota Ac­cess oil pipe­line, and he says the U.S. Army Corps of En­gi­neers is ex­am­in­ing whether the fourstate project can be rerouted in south­ern North Dakota to al­le­vi­ate the con­cerns of Amer­i­can In­di­ans.

Obama told the on­line news out­let NowThis that his ad­min­is­tra­tion is mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion closely but will “let it play out for sev­eral more weeks.”

“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,” Obama said an in­ter­view Tues­day.

Corps spokes­woman Eileen Wil­liamson said Wed­nes­day the agency had no im­me­di­ate com­ment on the pres­i­dent’s re­marks. She said a state­ment by the agency was ex­pected later in the day.

The White House said the Corps was ex­plor­ing a range of op­tions that would ad­dress con­cerns raised by tribal of­fi­cials and oth­ers. Sep­a­rately, the Army, the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the In­te­rior Depart­ment are dis­cussing with tribal gov­ern­ments how to pre­vent fu­ture dis­putes with the fed­eral govern­ment over public works projects, ac­cord­ing to the White House.

Stand­ing Rock Sioux Chair­man Dave Ar­cham­bault wel­comed Obama’s state­ment but said the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Corps should stop work on the pipe­line and do a full envi- ron­men­tal im­pact study.

The 1,172-mile, $3.8 bil­lion pipe­line will carry oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa to a ship­ping point at Pa­toka, Ill. It will skirt the Stand­ing Rock Sioux Reser­va­tion that strad­dles the North Dakota-South Dakota bor­der.

The tribe ob­jects to the project, say­ing it could threaten drink­ing wa­ter and de­stroy sa­cred sites. The tribe has sued fed­eral reg­u­la­tors for ap­prov­ing per­mits at more than 200 wa­ter crossings.

Protests that have in­cluded clashes with po­lice and pipe­line se­cu­rity also have gone on for sev­eral months in North Dakota, where hun­dreds and at times thou­sands 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 called it “a chal­leng­ing sit­u­a­tion.”

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