SEATTLE — A reroute of the Dakota Access Pipeline is under consideration by the Army Corps of Engineers, President Barack Obama said Wednesday.
“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,” Obama said in an interview with Now This News.
“We are going to let it play out 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 president said.
David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, said in a news release that he was grateful for the president’s remarks. He also asked that the Corps issue an immediate stop-work order on the pipeline while the reconsideration of the route, which passes within a half-mile of the Standing Rock reservation boundary, is underway.
The tribe is fighting the pipeline to protect its drinking water intake 10 miles down river. Millions of other people also rely on the Missouri River, which the pipeline would cross, for drinking water.
Meanwhile, demonstrators and police clashed again Wednesday morning, as pipeline protesters tried to get back to Cannon Ball Ranch, land developers are putting the pipeline through.
Demonstrators are building a pedestrian bridge across a creek to access the property, and the Morton County Sheriff’s Office is marshaling a police force to stop them, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office.
In addition to considering a reroute, the Army Corps also holds the last easement the company, Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas, needs to complete the project. The agency also is considering whether to review permits it has granted because of concerns about public safety, and whether tribes were adequately consulted.
Jan Hasselman of Earthjustice, lead attorney for the Standing Rock Sioux, told The Seattle Times in an email the announcement was “huge,” but, “this could be very difficult to walk back.”