People opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline rallied at more than 300 sites across the country today, including eleven in Minnesota, demanding that President Obama reject permits for the controversial project.
Calling themselves "water protectors," they gathered outside offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which granted permits for the pipeline in July, but subsequently said more analysis was needed to address concerns raised by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
"We do not want this permit issued," said Sheila Lamb of Cloquet, Minn., who was among about a dozen protesters standing in a chilly rain outside the U.S. Army Corps office in Duluth. "We want pipelines to stop being the norm, and instead go to renewable energy and other things that aren't going to affect the environment."
Lamb said she's encouraged that the government has said it will engage in further discussions with the tribe, but is concerned that Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is preparing to bore under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota to help complete the pipeline.
"We are hoping that they don't get underneath the river," said Anthony Hernandez, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota who lives in Duluth. "That our words and our prayers are heard, and we protect the water, and we save the water."
In downtown St. Paul, more than 300 people rallied, temporarily stopping traffic and light rail trains.
Charlie Thayer with Honor the Earth and the environmental group MN 350, said the rallies aim to stop the project.
"Nationwide we're trying to push the idea around the Army Corps of Engineers that they need to require a full environmental impact statement, that needs to be halted," he said. "Construction needs to be halted. The treaty rights of 1851 need to be upheld. So that's why we're here."
For several months, protesters from tribes around the country have gathered at Standing Rock to protest against the $3.8 billion pipeline that opponents argue could potentially foul sacred water and cultural sites.
The Army Corps announced Monday it has finished a review of the pipeline, but wants more study and tribal input before deciding whether to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock reservation.
"This action is motivated purely by politics at the expense of a company that has done nothing but play by the rules it was given," the company's CEO, Kelcy Warren, said in a statement. "To propose, as the Corps now does, to further delay this pipeline and to engage in what can only be described as a sham process sends a frightening message about the rule of law."
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