Dallas Protests Continue as President Obama Says Dakota Access Pipeline Could Be Rerouted

Tuesday night, about 100 protesters took to the narrow sidewalks around Energy Transfer Partners' University Park headquarters to rail against the company's Dakota Access Pipeline, challenging the decision to build the pipeline through the land and sacred sites of North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

"Dallas stands with Standing Rock," the demonstrators chanted, challenging Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren to stop building the $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile pipeline.

The pipeline would carry nearly 500,000 barrels of oil a day through South Dakota and Iowa, joining up eventually with an existing pipeline in Illinois. It's being built partly in response to a series of train derailments that have happened as they carried oil south from the Bakken shale in North Dakota. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists from across the world have gathered at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri Rivers in North Dakota to protest the pipeline. Clashes between authorities and the protesters have occasionally become violent — people claim to have been bitten by dogs being handled by private security hired by Energy Transfer Partners and being targets of pepper spray.

Because of the protests in North Dakota and beyond, the federal government temporarily ordered a stop to work on the pipeline in September, but allowed a restart the second week of October.

On Tuesday, President Obama indicated in an interview with NowThis News that the route of the pipeline could still be changed.

“We’re monitoring this closely,” Obama said of the situation in North Dakota. “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’re 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 First Americans.”
The chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Dave Archambault II, called for Obama to again halt construction while Energy Transfer Partners, the Standing Rock Sioux and the Army Corps of Engineers seek to agree on where the pipeline can be built.

"While the Army Corps of Engineers is examining this issue we call on the Administration and the Corps to issue an immediate 'stop work order' on the Dakota Access Pipeline. And given the flawed process that has put our drinking water in jeopardy, we also urge the Administration to call for a full environmental impact study," he said.

The organizers of the protest at Energy Transfer Partners have a follow-up event scheduled for Saturday at Klyde Warren Park.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young