Obama: Alternate pipeline path under examination
President says Army Corps looking into if project can be rerouted amid protests
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.”