In an effort to de-escalate the tense situation unfolding over the Dakota Access Pipeline Project, President Obama said on Tuesday that the White House is investigating ways of rerouting the $3.8 billion project.
In a video interview with the news site Now This, Obama stated, “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…We are going to let it play out for several more weeks and determine whether or not this can be resolved in a way that I think is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”.
The President also called for parties on both sides of the issue to show restraint.
Energy Transfer Partners has been working to finish the pipeline, which is almost complete, but progress has been halted by demonstrators who have been encamped just outside of Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Hundreds of people from across the nation have been drawn to the protest, which almost came to a head last week when authorities moved to evict a smaller group of protestors from property purchased by Energy Transfer Partners for the project.
As to the President’s call for restraint, people on each side of the issue have accused the other of using violence. Law enforcement claims that protestors have attacked pipeline workers, while protestors accuse law enforcement of using rubber bullets to break up the protest and placing arrestees in what they call dog kennels.
The local sheriff’s office says that they were placed in temporary holding cells made of chain link fencing. At the same time, the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) is slated to review a stretch of the pipeline that would run underneath land managed by the ACE adjacent to the Missouri River.
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Despite the comments from the President, rerouting the pipeline may not be feasible, given the progress that has already been made. At this point in time, the cost and the process involved in moving the pipeline may be too high.
University of Iowa professor Tyler Priest, who served on the President's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, told ABC News that moving the pipeline would mean new land purchases, logistical headaches and construction during the winter months. Since the pipeline is almost finished, it would be a costly effort.
Priest is advocating for some sort of compromise between the two sides, noting that if Energy Transfer Partners continues with its present construction plan, there could be some political fallout. David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, stated over the weekend that the Tribe was willing to seek a compromise.
By Lincoln Brown for Oilprice.com
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