President Barack Obama intervened Tuesday in the mounting conflict between the builders of the Dakota Access Pipeline and a group of Sioux and other First Nations, backed by environmental and other activists, revealing that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers—responsible for approving infrastructure affecting American national waters—was looking at whether the controversial pipeline can be rerouted to avoid contested sites.
“As a general rule, my view is that there is a way for us to accommodate sacred lands of Native Americans,” Obama told NowThis News on Tuesday “And I think, right now, that the Army Corps is examining whether there are ways to reroute this pipeline. So 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 is properly attentive to the traditions of the first Americans.”
Far from calming the standoff at Standing Rock, ND, which has been marked by increasing violence, “look for Obama’s words to heighten the tension on both sides,” Politico suggested in an email briefing the following day.
“Reading between the lines,” the U.S. political news site opined, “Dakota Access’ backers say the pipeline is more than 60% complete, making it difficult to execute a reroute that would significantly steer clear of the Missouri River crossing that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies have publicly protested for months. But proposing a different route may also expose divisions among the groups protesting the $3.7-billion, four-state pipeline—between those who just want to see Dakota Access moved away from the Sioux’s land and many others who want to see the project killed outright.”
Canada’s Enbridge Inc. owns nearly 40% of the 1,900-kilometre, US$3.8-billion pipeline, which on its present route skirts the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and must cross the Missouri River in order to reach its destination at Patoka, Illinois. Native and other resisters say it threatens the local water supply as well as sites sacred to the Sioux.