DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Tribal leader Yolonda Bluehorse of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe today called on opponents of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline to go home now that the project is stopped in its tracks.
Sunday the Army Corp of Engineers denied an easement necessary to permit the pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Despite this and now below freezing temperatures, many protestors are vowing to stay. They object to the project, fearing a leak could contaminate drinking water and destroy sacred sites.
“The Dakota Access Pipeline is routed to go under Lake Oahe and if it does, and when it breaks like many do, it will affect 17 million people’s drinking water,” Bluehorse told supporters in downtown Dallas Monday afternoon.
The company behind the project — Energy Transfer Partners — is based in Dallas. In a statement, they called the decision purely political. They said they have done nothing but “play by the rules” and “fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting” and that “nothing this administration has done today changes that in any way.”
The 1,200-mile, four-state pipeline is being built to carry oil from western North Dakota to a shipping point in Illinois. But construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline has been protested for months by the Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation lies near the pipeline route, and the tribe’s allies.
Energy Transfer Partners has said no sites were disturbed and that the pipeline will have safeguards against leaks, and is a safer method of transport for oil than rail or truck. The company has said the pipeline is largely complete except for the section under Lake Oahe.
Monday, Bluehorse remained steadfast in her resolve that continued “peaceful protests in prayer” will halt the pipeline’s construction forever.
“With Energy Transfer Partners coming forward saying that they will continue building, our prayers are still being answered – there is a temporary halt on it. And with this halt, Kelcy Warren, the CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, won’t make the January first deadline he needed to make for investors,” she told supporters.
Several alternate routes suggest by the Army were considered and rejected as being more risky and expensive.
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