Some 200 rallies protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline are slated Tuesday across the United States, at such locations as Army Corps of Engineers offices, federal buildings and banks that have helped finance the project.Pipeline opponents are seeking to draw the attention of President Barack Obama and get his administration to reject a crossing at a Missouri River reservoir in southern North Dakota.
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On Monday, the Army Corps said it had completed its review of the disputed pipeline but wanted more study and input from tribes before announcing its support for the crossing.
Here’s a guide to the latest developments and key background about the protest:
How We Got Here
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners obtained federal permits for the $3.8 billion pipeline in July, two years after it was first announced.
The pipeline would carry a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from western North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois, where shippers can access Midwest and Gulf Coast markets.
Supporters say the pipeline would create more markets and reduce truck and oil train traffic.
But the Standing Rock Sioux, other tribes and environmental groups say that the pipeline could threaten water supplies for millions, since it will cross the Missouri River, as well as harm sacred sites and artifacts.
Since April, tribal protests have grown considerably at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers. Nearly 500 have been arrested, including Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II, as the protest has grown in size.
In The Courtroom
The Standing Rock Sioux, whose reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, are suing federal regulators for approving the oil pipeline. They have challenged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings and argue that the pipeline would be placed less than a mile upstream of the reservation, potentially affecting drinking water for more than 8,000 tribal members and millions downstream.
The tribe hasn’t fared well in court so far. A federal judge in September denied its request to block construction of the entire pipeline and an appeal is pending in federal court.
What’s The Timetable?
The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday said it has finished a review of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline but wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to allow it to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota. Energy Transfer Partners said it will finish the pipeline by Dec. 1 except for a small disputed section in North Dakota, and expects it to begin moving crude in the first quarter next year if the government clears the final obstacle.
The company still needs permission to construct the pipeline adjacent to and underneath Lake Oahe – one of six reservoirs on the Missouri River. It said it would finish the pipeline within 120 days of getting approval for the easement.
A United Nations group that represents indigenous people around the world says the U.S. government appears to be ignoring the treaty rights and human rights of American Indians opposing the pipeline.
The statement is from the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It came after forum member Edward John spent three days at a camp in North Dakota that’s drawn hundreds of protesters. John said he met with both protesters and law officers, and that he found a “war zone” atmosphere.