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Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota ordered on Wednesday the emergency evacuation of protestors stationed at the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, sitting right on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, as the builders of the Dakota Access pipeline near the end of construction.
The Republican governor said in a statement that he issued the order “out of concern for the safety of people who are residing on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land in southern Morton County and to avoid an ecological disaster to the Missouri River.”
The executive order marks a 22 February deadline for the water protectors to evacuate the main protest camp, according to a tweet by Burgum.
“Warm temperatures have accelerated snowmelt in the area of the Oceti Sakowin protest camp, and the National Weather Service reports that the Cannonball River should be on the watch for rising water levels and an increased risk of ice jams later this week," the governor’s statement continued. "Due to these conditions, the governor’s emergency order addresses safety concerns to human life as anyone in the floodplain is at risk for possible injury or death. The order also addresses the need to protect the Missouri River from the waste that will flow into the Cannonball River and Lake Oahe if the camp is not cleared and the cleanup expedited."
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Once protestors leave, the state government will finance the accelerated clean-up of the area to remove waste that could otherwise end up in the Missouri River – the very same body of water that could be exposed to an oil spill if the DAPL leaks.
The $3.8 billion pipeline has been opposed by Native Americans across North America, who argue that its construction desecrates sacred land and jeopardizes the water supply of a nearby reservation and other communities that live downstream from the line’s crossing under the Lake Oahe River.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…