Protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline may finally have gotten the good news they’ve been waiting for, and directly from the mouth of President Obama. That’s because the President said in a recent interview that after eight months of devoted protests against the controversial project, ways of rerouting the pipeline are being considered. As RT reports, President Obama that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is looking for alternative paths for the Dakota Access Pipeline as a result of the protest efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The protests have been extensive and largely peaceful, and have been conducted because the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe contends that the Dakota Access Pipeline is threatening both their water supply and many of their sacred sites and ancient burial grounds.
In recent weeks, the months-long protests, protests in which many have relocated to the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline construction in North Dakota and set up camp, have gotten increasingly volatile. Last weekend, nearly 150 protesters and activists were arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site, many for trespassing on property owned by the company behind the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners.
Police agencies from several states, as well as private security employed to protect the Dakota Access Pipeline construction site, converged on the protest together and attempted to remove protesters. Nearly 150 were arrested, and massive violence ensued. Tear gas and rubber bullets were reportedly used to disperse protesters, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters reportedly started fires and fired bullets at police, and many detained protesters even claimed that they were held in what amounted to dog kennels, their arms marked with identifying numbers.
Some likened the treatment of Dakota Access Pipeline protesters to the Holocaust, and since the mass arrests, Amnesty International and the United Nations have sent observers to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest site to ensure that human rights aren’t being violated.
@TheYoungTurks— Missy Gee (@MissyGee49) November 2, 2016
Yep, hastily built under cover of darkness. Sounds safe to me. STOP THE PIPELINE. STOP IT NOW. Where's Hillary in all this?
@WSJ Native Americans have been silent for so long. I hope they start making their voice heard more and more.— Denise Turney (@DTWriters) November 2, 2016
@ABC that's great news! The appearance of the buffaloes the other day brought tears to my ears. Hope they can reroute it.— vickilv (@vickilb99) November 2, 2016
Now, if the remarks President Obama made on Tuesday are true, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters may soon learn that their efforts and all they’ve endured haven’t been in vain. It’s possible that the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, may have achieved through their protest efforts what they have been unable to achieve through the court system. Namely, they may have blocked the path of the Dakota Access Pipeline through their sacred sites and water sources.
“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.”
According to President Obama, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests will be allowed to “play out for several more weeks.” During that time, Obama says he and government agencies will “determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of First Americans.“
EXCLUSIVE: President Obama on Dakota Access Pipeline protests: “There's an obligation for authorities to show restraint" pic.twitter.com/UMOklVpldw— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 2, 2016
President Obama’s recent words regarding the future of the Dakota Access Pipeline seem like a step in the right direction, at least for protesters and those who support the protest efforts. However, not everyone appreciates Obama’s plans for the future of the pipeline. Especially his plans to let the current Dakota Access Pipeline protest situation “play out for several more weeks.”
The National Sheriff’s Association released an official statement criticizing President Obama’s Dakota Access Pipeline plans, and they shared that statement to Twitter.
The NSA felt it appropriate to remind Obama that the Dakota Access Pipeline protest is “not a game,” adding that police officers are just doing their jobs when they protect private property in North Dakota. The Association added that most protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline aren’t even from North Dakota; fully 92 percent of those arrested at the disputed site have been from out of state.
“Letting it play out, as the President recommended, put precious lives – protesters, workers, tribal members, ranchers, farmers and law enforcement – in danger. Unless the President can provide us with assistance and support, the President should be held partially responsible for the fear, terror, and damage caused by violent, militant out-of-state agitators.”
While the Dakota Access Pipeline protests have spiraled into violence in recent weeks, with hundreds of protesters having been arrested since protests began, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has tried to protect their water and ancient, sacred sites using the legal system rather than violence and protests.
In September, a federal judge denied a motion filed by the Standing Rock Sioux to issue a temporary injunction of the project. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Justice department and the Army Corps of Engineers asked that the construction of part of the pipeline be stopped.
As Reuters reports, after President Obama’s words on the Dakota Access Pipeline, the Justice Department issued a vague statement of their own.
“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.”
While construction has been halted on some disputed stretches of the Dakota Access Pipeline, along the Missouri River and land under Lake Oahe, a large and culturally important reservoir on the Missouri River where the line was supposed to cross, it has continued elsewhere.
“Construction is continuing on sections of the pipeline away from the Missouri River.”
Recent drone footage (above), however, indicates that the pipeline is nearly completed and inching closer to disputed lands near the Missouri River.
It is unknown when a final decision on the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline might be made, although President Obama alluded to “several more weeks” in his Tuesday statement. If that’s the case, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests could continue past the point that Obama’s presidency ends. Reportedly, North Dakota authorities are expecting a long, drawn-out “battle” over the future of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline.